Wind power stations of German utility RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity companies. March 2022

Wind power stations of German utility RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity companies. March 2022

Pundits Warn Tehran About Delaying Talks For Winter In Europe

9/13/2022

Iranian media and pundits have warned the government that delaying a nuclear agreement until winter to get concessions from energy starved Europe is a “mirage”.

In the past few weeks Mohammad Marandi, who acts as de facto spokesman for Iran's nuclear negotiating team, has been trying to link energy needs in Europe to ongoing talks for reviving the 2015 agreement, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Winter is Coming”, Marandi had tweeted August 21. His tweet depicted a photo of European leaders and the US President Joe Biden with the headline “Biden Discusses Iran nuclear talks with leaders of UK, France, and Germany”.

In an interview with Al Jazeera news channel on September 4, he said Iran “wants” a deal but Europeans “need” it. “Winter is approaching, and the EU is facing a crippling energy crisis,” he told Al Jazeera.

Prominent reformist journalist and politician, Abbas Abdi, has dubbed the policy of delaying an agreement in expectation of desperation in Europe as “Winter Mirage”.

In a commentary in Etemad newspaper Saturday, Abdi warned President Ebrahim Raisi not to be deceived by those who are against restoration of the JCPOA and claim that delaying an agreement until winter will secure a better deal for Iran. “But they know well that this is only and illusion and a lie,” he wrote.

Iranian reformist politician Abbas Abdi

Abdi argued that the premise is completely wrong because Iran cannot supply natural gas to Europe even if they face a serious energy crisis. Due to lack of pipelines and LNG facilities Iran simply cannot export gas to Europe. Moreover, “In winters there is shortage of gas in Iran and they cut its supply to industries and even have difficulty in honoring their gas export commitments,” he said.

A report earlier this month based on official statistics revealed that Iranian industry lost $7 billion last year due to shortages of gas and electricity. To avoid public discontent, the government decided to deprive industries such as petrochemicals and steel of electricity in peak summer months and gas in the winter to supply homes, as the former administration had done.

Some pundits believe that the idea of delaying talks until winter originates from the political circle of former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Journalist and political analyst Hadi Mousavi said Tuesday that Jalili and his associates recommend such strategies without any knowledge of the technical side of things at higher levels of the state. “Decisions are made on the basis of such plans because they are trusted.”

Iran holds the world’s second largest natural gas reserves, but sanctions have deprived the industry from foreign investment and technology to maintain and increase output.

Kayhan newspaper, which is known as the voice of the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has also insisted in many editorials and commentaries in the past month that Iran is in no rush to restore the JCPOA and urged President Raisi to suspend the nuclear talks for two months and wait for a winter energy crisis in Europe.

Abdi responded to Kayhan in a tweet on August 27, while Iran Diplomacy news and analysis website in an article titled “A Threat That Won’t Work” on September 5 said the freezing European winter script will only work for Moscow, not Tehran, and delaying talks will not help getting concessions from Washington and its European allies.

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