Germany said Monday that it did not regard Iranian proposals to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as “a basis for a successful end to talks.”
Iran last week circulated in Vienna to world powers written texts on ways to restore the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which was abandoned by the United States in 2018.
"We reviewed the proposals...carefully and thoroughly and concluded that Iran violated almost all compromises found previously in months of hard negotiations," the German spokeswoman told reporters.
The Vienna talks were suspended in June, as Iran decided for a break saying it needed to form a government after its presidential election, but later delayed rejoining the talks. At the time some participants claimed agreement was 70-80 percent done. The formal process in Vienna involves remaining JCPOA signatories – China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, and the United Kingdom – with a US delegation led by White House envoy Rob Malley taking part indirectly.
Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani has said Iran expects further talks on its basis of its draft proposals, which require lifting US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions levied since the US left the JCPOA, before Iran reciprocates. Bagheri Kani said this would clear the way for Iran to scale back steps taken extending its nuclear program since 2019.
The German foreign ministry spokeswoman said it was unacceptable for Iran to continue such nuclear activities while talks continued, and that while Berlin remained "committed to the diplomatic path…the window of opportunity is closing more and more."
It was not clear whether the German reaction to the Iranian proposals reflected a common position of the ‘E3,’ the three western European JCPOA powers, who have generally coordinated their approach.
A senior Iranian official said Sunday that a US reluctance to lift sanctions imposed on Iran since 2018 was the main challenge in reviving the JCPOA. The previous administration of Donald Trump imposed sanctions over ‘human rights’ or, as in the case of then Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, links to the office of Iranian leader Ali Khamenei.
‘Heads-up’ and Plan Bs
With JCPOA opponents in the US demanding a ‘plan B,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the US would pursue other options over Iran diplomacy failed. In a call for military action Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli prime minister and JCPOA critic, tweeted that Israel should “act independently against Iran’s nuclear program…without any ‘heads-up’…”
Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Monday Iran had no ‘plan B’ to pursue “simultaneously as we negotiate.” He spoke after meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Tehran.
Iran has said it expects talks in Vienna to resume once details are agreed with Enrique Mora, the EU official chairing the talks. Amir-Abdollahian flatly rejected claims, attributed by Axios to a “US source” with supposed knowledge of an Israeli intelligence briefing, that Iran “could take that dramatic step soon” of enriching uranium to 90 percent “in an attempt to gain leverage in the Vienna talks.”
Under the JCPOA, Iran enriched to 3.67 percent, but increased to 20 percent February and subsequently to 60 percent after attacks on its nuclear facilities widely attributed to Israel.