A website close to Iran's national security chief Wednesday called United States warnings limiting time available to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal a “Damocles sword.”
As related by the first-century BC Roman philosopher Cicero, the tale of Damocles and his sword represents dangers hanging always above the heads of the powerful.
Nour News, which is close to the SNSC secretary Ali Shamkhani, said in an editorial that “Western” parties to the Vienna nuclear talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) had hardened their approach with the phrase ‘time limitation.’
Both the US, which left the JCPOA in 2018 and the three western European JCPOA signatories − France, Germany, and the United Kingdom − have intimated they will soon leave the Vienna talks if Iran does not agree to their proposals, although they have not set a specific deadline.
Referring to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House Iran envoy Robert Malley's warnings Tuesday of time running out, Nour News said under the headline "Why the West Doesn't Want to Admit Progress in Talks" that they were hanging a Damocles sword over Iran.
Hardline website Jahan News also called their statements "a psychological war operation" aimed at encouraging the Iranian public to put pressure on Tehran’s negotiators to make concessions.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's national security council.
Malley told CNN Tuesday that “we have some weeks left but not much more than that."
Asked if Iran was “playing for time,” he replied. "If it's their plan I strongly urge them to revisit it."
Malley claimed Iran was “nearing the capability” to develop a nuclear weapon through expanding its nuclear program, referring to steps taken since 2019, the year after the US quit the JCPOA and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions. Malley said that within weeks there would be no deal to be revived and "a period of escalating crisis" would follow.
Blinken spoke Tuesday of a window rapidly closing. "It's getting very, very short,” he said. “Being able to recover full benefits of JCPOA, by [Iran] returning to compliance with it, is getting increasingly problematic by advances that Iran makes every single day in its nuclear program."
Nour News noted that the US emphasis on closing windows and time running out did not include lifting “unjust and illegal sanctions,” which had to be “one of main pillars of an agreement.” The site pointed to Iran’s nuclear program being “peaceful” and “advancing in accordance with the [Nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Nour News wrote that no party in the JCPOA talks – which include China and Russia: the US participates indirectly – should think one “pillar” of the 2015 agreement could remain in place, meaning restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, while they were engaged in "destabilizing the other pillar," meaning the lifting of international sanctions.
Nour said it would be "very mistaken" to think Iran would abandon its call for "full, effective, and verifiable lifting of sanctions and a guarantee" that the US would not renege on the deal as it had done before.
Blinken on Tuesday called Donald Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018 as "one of the worst decisions made in American foreign policy in the last decade" given that the JCPOA had "put Iran’s nuclear program in a box." He conceded that Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ had not pushed Tehran into further concessions but rather to expand its nuclear activities and continue to “act aggressively in the region.”
Defenders of a tough policy on Iran argue that Tehran will never make a deal that would permanently stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons or reduce its destabilizing activities in the region. Negotiations with and concessions to Tehran would provide time and resources for it to pursue its current policies.