WASHINGTON – A buzz of diplomatic contacts and reports of major progress suggest indirect negotiations between the US and Iran may be closer to an agreement. This is despite efforts by US authorities to reduce the likelihood of an imminent deal that would bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
With talks in Vienna on the Hyattas, the US and Britain on Monday denied Iranian reports that any agreement was reached with Iran for the interchange of American and British prisoners. Such exchanges can be a confidence-building measure to revive the nuclear deal.
A US withdrawal for the deal would be the biggest and most controversial foreign policy initiative in the early months of Joe Biden’s presidency. It would revive a deal that a top Biden aide put together during his years in the Obama administration, only to try to see President Donald Trump out and prevent America from ever returning. Adding it again – and making the necessary concessions to do so – would angered Republicans and potential Israelis and Gulf Arab allies.
Rejecting news of the prisoner’s swap at a news conference in London on Monday, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb also met with leaders of the Gulf countries of the Middle East. And the two biggest proponents of the nuclear deal in Congress – Democratic censors. Chris Coons and Chris Murphy – Visiting the area.
Those discussions follow a week of top-level meetings between Biden in Washington; His National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan; eyelid; His deputy, Wendy Sherman; Special Envoy of Iran Rob Malle; And the head of Israel’s espionage agency and others with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top national security aide.
The Israelis are opposed to any American relations with Iran, which they consider to be a potential threat to the Jewish state. Last week there were at least three separate meetings with the Israelis, including one Friday with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, in which Biden made an appearance. White House press secretary Jane Saki said Cohen was briefed about the Vienna discussion and “progress there.”
Later on Friday and Saturday, reports surfaced from Iran and Iran-related media outlets about what the US would provide in return for a return to Iran in compliance with the 2015 agreement, which was given billions of dollars in sanctions in return for its nuclear program. To curb. News of the prisoner swap deal surfaced on Sunday.
Those reports to US officials were prematurely and unfairly tilted down, although widespread references to potential sanctions are well-known and Washington has made no secret of its eagerness to free Americans held in Iran.
Administration officials have allowed limited progress in negotiations in Vienna, where Mali is leading the US delegation. Mellie was a key figure in the Obama administration’s negotiations of the original nuclear deal in 2015, as were Sherman and Sullivan, who respectively led the negotiations and attended secret meetings that paved the way for the agreement.
The Biden administration reacted sharply to Iranian reports. The State Department said that “we are not on the verge of any success” and denied the prisoner swap claim. “Unfortunately, that report is untrue,” White House chief Ron Clann said Sunday.
Sullivan himself has been cautious in public comments about the conversation, insisting that things stand at “an obscure place in Vienna”. At a virtual meeting of the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, he underlined that the talks were “genuine talks” while acknowledging the indirect nature of the discussions making the undertaking somewhat “inefficient”.
“I think good faith is always in the eye of the beholder and we believe the Iranians have come up with a serious way to have a serious discussion about the details and the team is now working through those details, ” They said.
Thus, an increase in diplomatic activity as a negotiator is set for a fourth round of talks in Vienna, with supporters of the deal expected to withdraw Trump in 2018. And this has angered opponents.
Complaining in the short or medium term of any possible offer is a significant array of opponents to thwart a deal. Apart from Gulf Arabs and Israel, there is strong opposition from Republican members of Congress who are already trying to pass legislation to stop it. In Iran, elements of the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps appear to be using Vienna talks to thwart the candidacy of Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif in presidential elections this year.
Deal critics have taken issue with the negotiating strategy of Malle and his allies, alleging they are doing away with the leverage on Iran that Trump made when he pulled out of the deal and enforced new sanctions. In fact, the withdrawal of any US agreement would require easing many of the sanctions that were probably imposed for non-nuclear reasons, such as terrorism, ballistic missile activity and human rights abuses.
Deal supporters, on the other hand, have emphasized the criticism, accusing the other side of rejecting diplomacy and hailing for war. He argues that sanctions relief is the only way to bring Iran back into compliance with the agreement and is closing its path to nuclear weapons.
Associated Press writer Amer Madhani in Chicago contributed to this report.
Matthew Lee, Associated Press