EU foreign policy official Enrique Mora (R) visiting Tehran in June 2022

Tehran Lawmaker Claims US And Europe Knocking On Iran's Door

Sunday, 07/30/2023

As Iran grapples with its economic crisis, government officials periodically try to show optimism about a nuclear deal with the West, while pundits express caution.

Officials are well aware that people blame the regime for the continuation of US sanctions that has pushed annual inflation to 70 percent and has weakened the currency 12-fold in five years.

Iranian media on Sunday quoted Shahriar Haydari, the vice chair of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee as insisting that there are unmistakable signs of a Western desire to conclude a nuclear deal. He claimed that European powers and the United States continue contacts with Tehran to re-start negotiations, possibly in Oman, which he said has indicated it readiness to host the talks.

US State Department repeatedly said in June and July that there are no deals in the offing, although contacts with Tehran continue and talks have taken place in Oman. The main purpose of these talks reportedly revolves around freeing four Americans held hostage by Iran, but even this process has not made any visible progress.

Prisoner release plans have always included the proposal of freeing Iran’s frozen funds in South Korea as the big prize for Tehran to let the prisoners who have been arrested on baseless charges go free.

Shahriar Haydari, member of Iranian parliament's national security committee. Undated

However, the Iranian government sent a draft bill to parliament July 29 that would authorize the executive to refer the case of the funds in Seoul to arbitration. This could be a sign that prisoner release talks have hit a snag and Tehran is resorting to desperate measures.

Nevertheless, lawmaker Haydari tried to sound optimistic about the outlook for a deal, blaming the “Zionist lobby” and Americans who oppose the revival of a nuclear agreement for its delay. Haydari said that a deal might not happen until after the US presidential elections, but the Americans and Europeans are knocking on Tehran’s door asking for negotiations.

Even before the November 2020 elections, candidate Joe Biden announced that he totally disagreed with President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to leave the Obama-era JCPOA accord and would try to return to the agreement. However, 18 months of indirect talks with Iran failed in September 2022 and later Washington repeatedly insisted that the JCPOA was no longer on its agenda.

Iranian analysts have been voicing pessimist since 2022 over the prospects of a deal, some seeing intransigence by Tehran and an unwillingness to change its foreign policy.

A new factor that emerged in late June could have added another complication to efforts to reach deals with Iran. The US administration’s special envoy for Iran Rob Malley was put on unpaid leave for an apparent security breach that is now under FBI investigation. Malley was committed to reviving the JCPOA and willing to offer financial relief to Tehran for progress.

A former senior Iranian foreign ministry official, Qassem Mohebali was quoted by Khabar Online website in Tehran on Sunday as saying that Malley’s departure could hurt the talks.

“Although America’s policies are not made by single individuals, but a person who is positively inclined toward Iran and solving its problem, and a person who did not have good relations with Israel and those opposing the nuclear deal, naturally could have played a more positive role in concluding an agreement,” Mohebali stated. “His dismissal could be interpreted as a negative sign in the nuclear talks,” he added.

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