A former senior lawmaker has called on the Iranian government to explain, once and for all, if it intends to lay the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA) to rest.
Monday, August 1, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Naser Kanani said that the next round of the Vienna talks can perhaps start soon. He added that during the past days serious messages have been exchanged and Iran has expressed its views on a proposal by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
At the same time, Iran's nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami told reporters in Tehran that Iran is technically capable of building a nuclear bomb; a statement that has been made before by at least two other Iranian officials and has been generally taken as a defiant signal from Tehran. President Ebrahim Raisi also reiterated last week that the people of Iran have told him they want to resist rather than sign an agreement with the United States.
In an interview with moderate conservative news website Khabar Online in Tehran on Monday, former lawmaker Ali Motahari said that some Iranian officials are misled to believe that maintaining relations with the United States will signal an end to the revolution.
Commenting on Iran’s policy of drawing closer to China and Russia he said, "Looking East is not a bad idea, but it should not be tantamount with distancing from the West. We need to maintain relations with both sides and take advantage of the rivalry between them. However, cutting all ties with the West wound not serve the nation's interests."
Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran on July 19, 2022
Khabar Online wrote that there is a pessimistic mood in Tehran as a result of which no one would be shocked if the government announces the end of the JCPOA. In the meantime, the people, politicians and the media keep criticizing the government and its negotiating team for keeping everyone in the dark about the fate of the talks.
Motahari said that currently neither Iran nor the United States find the JCPOA useful for their interests. He noted that US President Joe Biden no longer has a welcoming attitude toward the revival of the JCPOA as this might adversely affect his situation in the November Congressional election. The war in Ukraine has also changed the international atmosphere, said Motahari, pointing out that the combination of these factors has made decision-making difficult for both Tehran and Washington.
The loyalist followers of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who are currently in charge of the government in Tehran say that they can manage without a nuclear deal with the US, despite crippling economic sanctions.
Motahari said: "Of course the country's economy can be run without the JCPOA, but this will impose unnecessary hardships on the people. We also have to pay more for our imports and get less for our exports. My final verdict is that without the JCPOA it is impossible to have an ideal economy."
Motahari agreed with current lawmakers at the Majles that the government is deliberately keeping the parliament and everyone else in the dark about the state of the negotiations.
Asked if Iran and the United States can have direct talks without the revival of the JCPOA, Motahari said, "With no JCPOA, relations will be more negative and maintaining ties will be even less likely. Apart from that, without the JCPOA, a war against Iran will be more likely because of Israel's provocations. "
He said, "severing ties with Washington was imposed on us following the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 under the influence of the leftists and possibly the embassy of the former Soviet Union." However, Motahari said, "There is always a chance for maintaining relations if we do away with obsolete slogans."