The nuclear deal with the Western powers in tatters ever since the US pullout under Donald Trump, the next round of talks in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear proliferation may have hit the reefs already, at any rate before the delegates assemble at the high table. The theocratic government in Tehran insisted on Monday that the United States of America and its allies had promised to allow Iran to export its crude. This is the critical issue of contestation.
Arguably, Iran is buttressing its position ahead of the negotiations over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, one that was then greeted as a landmark event. On closer reflection, the talks have struggled to make headway and were recently adjourned after fresh demands from Tehran stoked tensions. Iran wants the next round of talks to be riveted to the prospects of its oil industry, hit by sanctions.
“The objective is to get to the point where Iranian oil is sold easily and without barriers and its money arrives in Iran’s bank accounts,” said the country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, as a curtain-raiser to yet another Vienna round. Iran’s landmark deal with world powers had granted the country relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. As it turned out, in a ruthless exercise of impetuous geostrategy, President Trump in 2018 withdrew the United States from the deal and imposed a cache of crippling sanctions on Iran, principally affecting the lifeline of its economy ~ the oil sector. Tehran made it pretty obvious on Monday that it was determined to regurgitate the sector that was booming not too long ago.
Since the high noon of the oil economy, Iran’s crude exports have declined considerably and international oil companies have scrapped deals with Tehran. Both developments have weakened the nation’s economy. The foreign minister has made it explicit that Iran “wanted to be able to enjoy full economic concessions under the nuclear deal. Guarantees and verification of the lifting of sanctions are among the issues that we have focused on.”
The present conservative administration of President Ebrahim Raisi has repeatedly demanded the “removal of all economic sanctions before Iran reins in its nuclear advances”. Echoing similar sentiments, the Iranian foreign ministry has said “it would be intolerable for the West to demand anything from Tehran beyond compliance with the original deal”.
Over time, Iran has abandoned all of the accord’s limitations post the American withdrawal. Furthermore, it is now enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity, which is a short technical step away from weaponsgrade levels. It also manufactures advanced centrifuges, which too were barred by the deal. The fact of the matter must be that the country has initiated critical steps despite its claims that its nuclear programme is peaceful.
The Vienna talks involve all the parties to the original nuclear deal specifically Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. But not the United States of America.