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IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

EU's Borrell in Tehran to give diplomacy a chance

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Jun 25, 2022

Tehran, IRNA -- Western political analysts are of the opinion that the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal can end up in an escalation of tension and chaos in the international energy market, so Europe is expected to follow up the diplomatic path to deal with such a scenario.

Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa program and Senior Policy Fellow Ellie Geranmayeh has recently written an article, published in the European Council on Foreign Affairs, pointing to the outlook of a trip by European Union High Representative Josep Borrell to Iran. She wrote:

EU High Representative Josep Borrell is on his way to Tehran to make an eleventh-hour attempt to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. At talks in Vienna in March this year, negotiators made substantial progress towards bringing Iran and the United States back into compliance with the agreement. But the deal is now at grave risk of unravelling. The talks have stalled, tensions between Iran and the West over nuclear issues have sharply increased, and there has been dangerous escalation between Israel and Iran. The growing distrust between the West and Iran could lead them both to miscalculate.

In recent days, the Iranian foreign minister has held high-level discussions with his Russian and Chinese counterparts on the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Borrell's visit could create the diplomatic momentum needed to end the current deadlock and avert further escalation.

So far, despite sustained shuttle diplomacy by the European Union, negotiators have been unable to resolve the outstanding issue between Tehran and Washington.

As the impasse continues, Iran has now expanded its nuclear activities. In recent days, Iran reported to the agency that it has begun to use advanced centrifuges at its underground nuclear site.

Despite this dark outlook, there are some signs that the Biden and Raisi administrations could come up with innovative solutions to the stand-off. To achieve this, they need to clear three major obstacles.

Firstly, the fundamental problem in Tehran with the return of the JCPOA is more political than economic. Iranian leaders have little confidence that a revived nuclear deal would be durable, as they recognize - after the experience of dealing with President Donald Trump - that no one US administration can force its successor to abide by the agreement.

Therefore, the US and its European allies should now propose a package of economic and political initiatives that can provide the extra incentive for Iran to accept the text reached in Vienna.

The second major obstacle is President Joe Biden's apparent lack of appetite to take on a costly domestic political fight over the nuclear deal. His hesitance, which will likely increase with the approach of the US mid-term elections in November, has led many European leaders to worry that he is sleepwalking into a major nuclear crisis.

The third major obstacle is the increasing risk that Iran, the US, and Israel will misjudge one another's tolerance for escalation.

Europe's need to revive the Iran nuclear agreement is greater than ever. Neither Iran nor the US has a workable plan to manage the fallout from the deal's collapse. European leaders are, understandably, preoccupied with Russia's war on Ukraine. Yet they should recognize that such a collapse could not only lead to military escalation but could also compound their problems in the energy market. To address these threats, they will need to follow Borrell's lead and immediately intensify their efforts at high-level diplomacy.

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