A seasoned Iranian politician and the former head of parliament's Foreign Relations and National Security Committee is pessimistic over nuclear talks in Vienna.
Heshmatollah Falahatpiasheh told Rouydad24 website in Tehran that "there is no bright prospect for the negotiations." The former lawmaker added, "This shuttle diplomacy will bear nothing other than speeches that would be forgotten soon and a high cost for the Iranian nation."
The conservative politician went on to say that politics in the Islamic Republic is not focused on the country’s economic development, which should be the key incentive for reaching a nuclear deal and lift US sanctions.
The remarks were made on the same day when the Iranian government’s spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi, who has joined the Raisi administration from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office, said in his first news conference in Tehran that Iran's new diplomacy is result-oriented and is based on pragmatism.
The spokesman said that "Iran's diplomacy is not passive and is not focused on one approach." He also claimed that "Other countries have received Iran's message and have realized the nature of Iran's diplomacy." This comes while in recent months Iran's president and foreign minister have been highlighting a shift toward the East in Iran's diplomacy, maintaining that Tehran attaches special significance to its ties with Moscow and Beijing.
Falahatpisheh, a moderate conservative politician, comes from the Islamic Republic's traditional conservative camp and has been writing commentaries on Iran's foreign policy in Resalat, that was once the flagship media outlet of the conservative camp. A decade ago, the paper lost influence when new conservatives such as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emerged. The political dynamics since then has led to the emergence of hardliners, as distinct from traditional conservatives.
In his interview, Falahapisheh pointed out two problems about the 40-member, large negotiating team Iran has sent to Vienna. The first problem according to Falahatpisheh, is that the team is focused on issuing statements.
"Statements could have been issued in Tehran," said Falahatpisheh, adding that in this case "the team did not need to leave Iran for Vienna in the first place."
The second problem is that "The delegation sent to Vienna is against the 2015 nuclear deal also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). So, how can it revive an agreement it disagrees with?" asked Falahatpisheh.
Referring to the many tensions between Iran and the international community, Falahatpisheh insisted that Iran should start a détente parallel to the Vienna talks succeed. Otherwise, the benefits of an agreement will be limited for the country. However, he said that Iran's negotiating team lacks the experience and the potential to reduce the tensions.
He added: "I am not optimistic about the quick revival of the JCPOA although an interim agreement can always be forged." He explained that without limiting its nuclear program, Iran can immediately facilitate IAEA inspections in return for releasing part of Tehran's frozen assets abroad."
He likened the interim agreement to "some kind of cease-fire," that would build confidence on the part of the other side and allow Tehran to benefit from its released assets.
He also criticized Iran's opposition to the United States' direct involvement in the talks and said others might take advantage of the situation. Furthermore, he warned against the advantages Russia might gain in the process of the negotiations. Falahatpisheh pointed out that Russia is one of the countries that has benefitted most from sanctions on Iran's oil exports, as it has grabbed Iran's share of the oil market.