Negotiations for the seemingly endless talks aimed at reviving the international nuclear agreement with Iran is set to start Monday involving the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and Iran. The elephant in the room is has Tehran advanced its nuclear work so much in the past two years that the 2015 deal can no longer be rescued?
Iran’s new president has delayed restarting talks while pressing ahead with nuclear work. Iran is in no hurry after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA deal in 2018. He from that imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran. Iran’s response has been to gradually resume efforts to produce highly enriched uranium and uranium metal, both of which are critical components for atomic weapons.
This will be the seventh round of talks between U.S., European and Iranian diplomats. The first since Mr. Raisi won the presidential election in June.
Iran has played the current US President as best it could knowing that reviving the deal is a top Biden foreign-policy goal. Iran has carried on knowing the troubled nuclear talks is just one of a list of foreign-policy missteps for President Biden. He has elevated tensions with China and Washington has been voicing growing concerns about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine amid rifts with some European leaders over the exit from Afghanistan and the new security pact with Australia and Britain in the face of France.
Another factor has been the surge in oil and Biden’s unwillingness to meet errors in his energy strategy. His desperate measures have left him exposed to Iran’s oil bargaining chip. Some would suggest he would rather do a faulty deal with Iran than one with Texas to increase production.
Indeed President Biden in his latest shift of finding blame and solutions for high oil prices last week sent a letter to the FTC to consider whether “illegal conduct” by large oil and gas companies is pushing up gasoline prices for American consumers. The F.T.C., does have the power to break up large industry players but in reality is unlikely to affect gasoline prices materially any time soon. Read More Here.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower oil prices. This release will be taken in parallel with other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom. This has been well telegraphed with oil down roughly 10% from recent highs. Read More Here.
This has not been missed by Iran. Iran is making plans to once again access world oil markets if it is successful in having sanctions removed. Managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co., Mohsen Khojastehmehr, were made to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency where he said “Plans are in place to increase oil output to more than 5 million barrels a day”
The Biden administration had hoped a swift restoration of the nuclear deal could avoid a deepening crisis in the Middle East. Such a deal would then lay the platform for talks with Tehran on a longer agreement that could tackle issues like Iran’s ballistic missile program. The prospect of such a more wide-ranging agreement now looks far off. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi must be laughing at the sheer ignorance. He appears to grow more skeptical of the deal and the West by day.
Just last week European officials warned Iran’s research work on centrifuges used to enrich uranium, also meant that Iran’s growing know-how was “irreversibly reducing” the ability to constrain its nuclear program. Even Russia’s top negotiator warned there was “an obvious need to speed up” the talks.
The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that “We are getting closer to a point at which returning to compliance with the JCPOA will not in and of itself recapture the benefits of the JCPOA,” because of Iranian advances.
Another thorn in the side for any deal is Israel, which has warned it could act militarily to stop Iran’s nuclear program. At this point are the negotiations jsut a boon for Vienna hotels needing increased business from the COVID lockdowns?
Source: WSJ, Reuters, IRNA, TC
From The TradersCommunity Research Desk