Hossein Mousavian, former Iranian diplomat and scholar at Princeton University.

Former Negotiator Tells Iran Direct Talks With US More Effective

Wednesday, 12/29/2021

After eighth months of diplomatic attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran is still refusing to sit down with the United States, the main party to the dispute.

The diplomatic process involves the slow and indirect route via the three European countries in the talks, and possibly others, carrying messages back and forth between American and Iranian negotiators.

In an interview published by reformist website Etemad Online on Tuesday, December 28, a former Iranian diplomat and nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian has said that the United States might show flexibility on some matters in direct talks.

Mousavian argued that the United States will not give any concessions to Iran through mediators. Direct talks will lead to fewer misunderstandings and a quicker pace in negotiations.

The former diplomat, who lives in the United States and is a visiting scholar at Princeton University, maintained that Iran's decision to hold indirect talks with America is “understandable at this juncture,” but this will delay reaching results. On the other hand, Iran's experience in more than a decade of negotiations with the United States indicates that even if America is prepared to give concessions, it will not do so via mediators.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mousavian revealed that while he was ambassador in Germany in the 1990s, he and other European ambassadors had orders to try to de-couple Western Europe from the United States in matters related to Iran. But he stressed that the strategy of "Europe without America failed," adding that "the United States is much more powerful than Europe, and in fact, the United States is the leader and Europe follows it."

Mousavian asked, " Did Russia, China and Europe fulfil their commitments under the JCPOA after the United States pulled out?" and answered: "No country in the Eastern or Western bloc stood by its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal."

He also maintained that all countries attach more significance to their ties with the United States than to their relations with Iran. He said, "Other countries are not there to serve Iran's national interests. Instead, they try to serve their own national interests." Why should China cut off its several hundred-billion-dollar economic ties with the United States” when its trade with Iran is a fraction of that?

Meanwhile, Mousavian maintained that no US administration will fully implement the JCPOA. The reason for that is that our problems with the United States are not limited to the nuclear issue. Unfortunately, Iran does not have any powerful lobby in the United States. The Islamic Republic government's ability to use the potential of Iranian-Americans is below zero, Mousavian said. Nonetheless, he stressed that a good agreement could lead to the full implementation of the JCPOA.

He also pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Israel continue to oppose the revival of the JCPOA and want the United States to discuss issues beyond the nuclear issue with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

During the interview, Mousavian repeated recent accusations in Iran’s government-controlled media that France is playing an obstructive role in the negotiations. He even added that in 2014, it was the United States that stopped France when Paris put forward excessive demands.

Expressing his support for direct talks with Washington, Mousavian said: "We reached the same conclusion in the early 2010s and realized that after ten years of negotiations with world powers minus America, we did not get anywhere. And then, after one year of negotiating with America we reached an agreement to which the other five world powers also agreed. We cannot change the history."

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