While nuclear talks between Iran and world powers are set to resume this month, there is little optimism among Iranian pundits about a quick, positive outcome.
News website Rouydad24 in Iran says the Raisi administration has failed in nearly all foreign negotiations during its first six months in office. The talks between Iran and Turkmenistan over the two countries' economic cooperation have been discontinued without signing even a single agreement.
The long meeting in Tehran between Afghanistan's neighbors remained fruitless and even annoyed the Taliban who were not invited to the meeting. And there are indications that the presence of individuals close to former chief negotiator Saeed Jalili in Iran's nuclear negotiating team is not likely to have any tangible result in the same way that months of negotiations led by Jalili before 2013 led to nowhere.
After Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said in a November 3 tweet that Iran has " agreed to restart the talks on November 29 in Vienna," Ali Vaez, the director of Iran Project at the Crisis Group, noted in a tweet on November 4 that Bagheri has used the word "starting" rather than "continuing" negotiations, and has called for "removing the sanctions" rather than "reviving the JCPOA."
Saeed Jalili (C) with Bagheri to his right and former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan. Undated
Rouydad24 wrote that looking at the Iranian foreign ministry's approach to the negotiations, it is unlikely that direct talks with the United States would be on its agenda. Also, it is clear that the team will be led by Bagheri, but it is still not known who else will be part of the negotiating team.
Meanwhile, Diako Hosseini, a commentator on Iran's foreign policy said in an interview that "The United States is not prepared to give Iran the guarantee Tehran wants about Washington's behavior toward Iran in the future," adding that "Plan B, that is a military strike on Iran will never happen even if the talks with Iran are not fruitful or even if such talks never start."
US President Joe Biden has spoken about Plan B if efforts to bring Iran to the negotiating table or reaching an agreement fail.
Hosseini said that the Plan B rhetoric is an outdated Trump tactic, adding that maximum pressures on Iran have led to nothing other than deepening the distrust on both sides and leading to the current impasse. He noted that based on Biden's declared policy on Iran taking an action such as attacking Iran will be impractical and catastrophic anyway.
Although some commentators in Iran and abroad have argued that sanctions have been ineffective in forcing Tehran to show flexibility, it was international sanctions that forced Iran to start nuclear negotiations in 2013.
Hosseini ruled out plan B as sheer propaganda and said he does not believe such a plan exists. He also noted that Iran might react to such measures by doing things that would make the situation even more complicated. However, he did not elaborate on Iran's possible actions.
The commentator further opined that such a plan is not likely to change Iran's position but reminded that next year the Republicans might win the majority in the US Congress and subsequently decide to leave the nuclear deal forever. This is one of the reasons Iran is after a guarantee about the continuation of the US commitment to the agreement.
Stressing that the talks to revive the JCPOA will be more difficult than the initial negotiations which led to the JCPOA, Hosseini said Tehran wishes to have the sanctions lifted, particularly the non-nuclear sanctions including restrictions on oil sales and international banking, and that is what has made returning to the talks more difficult.
However, he said negotiating, despite the existing distrust can prevent the deepening of the crisis. "Although it does not mean the talks can provide what Iran wants, yet they can be a beginning to the lifting of non-nuclear sanctions."