Analysts in Tehran say President Ebrahim Raisi’s one-day visit to Oman Monday could be a sign of a possible breakthrough in the stalled Vienna nuclear talks.
Expressing optimism over the possibility that Tehran and Washington may reach an agreement over the delisting of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), international affairs expert Ali Bigdeli told Fararu news website Tuesday that Raisi’s visit to the sultanate may be an indication that a breakthrough in the nuclear talks could be expected.
“Raisi would definitely not have gone to Oman if the Qatari Emir’s visit to Iran and his European tour had no [positive] outcome,” he said, adding that it is possible that the issue of American prisoners in Iran may have been resolved during the visit.
Iran’s official media say the visit was aimed at improving political and economic ties and have particularly highlighted the trade deals concluded during the visit, including a joint gas pipeline, and opportunities for further cooperation but have not reported any discussion of the nuclear file during the visit.
Raisi’s visit to Muscat Monday was the first by an Iranian president in the past two years and his second to a Persian Gulf country since assuming office in August last year. He made his first visit to a Persian Gulf country to Qatar in February.
Talks in Vienna to restore the JCPOA have stalled since mid-March. Major issues reportedly include Washington’s refusal to delist Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) which the Trump administration designated as a ‘foreign terrorist organization’. Iran also insists on avenging the US killing of IRGC’s Qods Force Commander Ghasem (Qasem) Soleimani who was killed in Baghdad in 2020 in a US targeted drone attack.
Possible Qatari mediation between Tehran and Washington, has somehow been marred after controversy arose over remarks by Qatar’s foreign minister suggesting that Iran's Supreme Leader was ready for compromise in nuclear talks. Iran on Saturday dismissed the remark as reported by Al-Jazeera. Later the broadcaster changed the wording, deleting the word ‘compromise’. On Monday, the Qatari Emir said that Doha is not playing an official mediating role but wants to try to help and encourage all parties to come back to the agreement.
Referring to other diplomatic moves including the recent visits to Tehran of Enrique Mora, the European Union’s coordinator in Iran nuclear talks, another international affairs expert, Abdolreza Faraji-Rad, told Fararu that conditions have improved for continuation of nuclear talks and one can deduce that a change is taking place.
“The sultanate of Oman is still willing to break the impasse in the talks between Iran and 4+1 countries in Vienna and facilitate the release of Iran’s frozen assets despite the changes at the top level of the Omani government [after the death of Sultan Qabus],” Hassan Hanizadeh, a senior Middle East analyst, told another local website.
“It is very important for Oman that the positive outcome of its mediation between Tehran and Washington endures and that the two sides do not conclude that negotiation and third-party mediation are useless,” Oman expert Arash Saffar told Tabnak news website Monday.
“For Oman, managing the contacts between Iran and the US and not allowing tensions to increase, guarantees the security of the Persian Gulf and the national security of [regional] countries,” he said, adding that at the moment the Omani government is more focused on arrangements for unfreezing Iran’s blocked assets in other countries while the Qataris are more active in mediating for the resumption of Vienna talks.