Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani

Iranian Reformists Say Hardliners Missed Chance For A Nuclear Deal

Thursday, 04/21/2022

If the former Iranian government had concluded a nuclear agreement with the United States in 2021, Iran would have been ahead of the game, some argue in Tehran.

So called ‘reformist’ and moderate-conservative media and figures are saying that Iran’s nuclear negotiators last year had clinched a deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA in talks with world power from April to June, when presidential elections brought hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to power.

Almost simultaneously Tehran stopped the talks saying it needed time for its new government to form and resume negotiations, but that delay lasted five months, while American sanctions continued to wreak havoc on the country’s economy.

Former president Hassan Rouhani’s minister of cultural, and a well-connected moderate conservative former diplomat, Ali Jannati, told Khabar Online website on Thursday that the previous negotiating team had a pledge from the Biden Administration to lift all sanctions if the talks had reached fruition.

Jannati was implicitly referring to the current deadlock in the talks over Iran’s demand to remove the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) from the United States’ list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

Moderate-conservative former diplomat and politician Ali Jannati

He accused Iran’s hardliners of not allowing the previous negotiating team to continue its work because of factional politics and this delayed an agreement for months – or perhaps indefinitely.

Jannati said that the United States was ready to lift all nuclear-related sanctions and moreover reverse former president Donald Trump’s Executive Order sanctioning Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office and all related entities.

“Regarding removing the terrorist designation of the Guards, they [Americans] said it would depend on the progress in the talks and, for example, the release of American prisoners,” Jannati told Khabar Online. “But suddenly the talks were stopped, which I believe was [domestic] political move,” he added.

"Reformist' politician Abbas Abdi

‘Reformist’ Etemad newspaper also on Thursday published an analysis of the nuclear issue and its impact on the economy, asking why the negotiations were stopped last year because of domestic political considerations.

“In six rounds of talks [in 2021] it was announced that an agreement was at hand, but…nothing was finalized to allow the new [Raisi] government to conclude a deal and claim credit. But this delay was damaging to the economy,” Etemad said.

The newspaper added that Iran could have sold billions of dollars of oil to Europe in the past nine months and regained other traditional clients, such as South Korea and Japan. In addition, in incalculable amount in foreign investments were lost.

At this juncture, Etemad said, a new hurdle has emerged, with Washington refusing to remove the IRGC from its list of terrorist organizations, unless Tehran agrees to negotiate over regional issues.

“Reformist’ politician and commentator Abbas Abdi told the newspaper that even if an agreement is reached it would give Iran fewer benefits than the original deal in 2015. A lot of uncertainty has crept in regarding the future and many foreign governments and companies would hesitate to expand ties with Iran not knowing when the new deal would fall apart.

“JCPOA’s main benefit [for Iran] was normalization of its economic ties [with the world] and oil exports…were just a part of that,” Abdi said, while if an agreement is reached now, it would mainly mean selling crude and receiving the money unhindered. The larger benefit of becoming part of the international economy has been lost, he argued.

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