ISSN 2330-717X

Sudden Departure Of Iranian Delegation From Vienna Talks Surprised Everyone – OpEd


The Iranian regime pretends to be committed to the Vienna talks. Part of this playacting involves sending a 40-member delegation to Vienna. Senior regime officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir Abdullahian and Foreign Ministry spokesman Khatib, have repeatedly stated that they want to return to the JCPOA. Whenever Iran has been pushed into a corner, it has partially bowed to the demands of the Western countries, such as allowing the installation of the IAEA cameras in a nuclear site at the city of Karaj or settling for “lifting the JCPOA sanctions.” 

In the previous round of negotiations, the Iranian regime’s delegation suddenly demanded an end to the negotiations and listed a set of pre-conditions for the Western parties. Iran regards Plan B as just a media maneuver and rhetoric. At the same time, they engage in air defense maneuvers over the Bushehr nuclear power plant and engage in missile and drone maneuvers in the Persian Gulf against the countries in the region. Iran considered the above-mentioned maneuvers as pressure tactics, but it is clear that the Iranian regime is reluctant to reach a full agreement with the Western countries.

One may question Iran’s motives and the reasons behind these sets of abnormal, strange, and contradictory behaviors. By prolonging negotiations, the Iranian regime buys more time to achieve its goals of producing and enriching 90% uranium. This, in theory, will give Iran a better position in future negotiations. Iranian regime officials have played the same game during three rounds of talks with Mr. Grossi, the head of the IAEA. With just a few concessions, they avoided the issuance of an IAEA resolution against Iran and continued their game for another round.

Undoubtedly, what has led the Iranian regime to these contradictory, insidious and abnormal behaviors is the highly explosive situation of Iranian society. The West continues to miss the importance of what is happening on the ground within Iran, both socially, environmentally, and economically. 

The uprising in Khuzestan due to water shortage, the uprising in Sistance and Balouchestan due to poverty, the drying of Zayanderood in Isfahan, and the most recent demonstrations of teachers in more than one hundred cities across Iran are alarms for the regime. 

For instance, while the poverty line in Iran is 12 million tomans (Iran’s currency) a month, the teacher’s salary is not more than six million tomans, half the minimum. The middle class of Iranian society has been sliding towards the lower classes for years. This class decline has posed a great danger to the ruling regime, and the regime is worried about the explosion of society and massive widespread uprisings. Thus, the regime looks for ways to appease the people without giving up any control or power. As a result, Iran is willing to negotiate, in hopes the lifting of any sanctions will be enough to satisfy the Iranian people. History shows that this will never truly succeed. 

The 2019 uprising left the regime in a deep crisis of legitimacy. Regime officials are well aware that if they comply with the demands of the Western countries and halt their nuclear intentions and abort its regional interventions and missile development, the collapse of the regime will loom ever closer. According to Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, this road will lead to an endless decline and losing all levers of power. 

Demonstrations in Iran, alongside the UN Security Council meeting and the preceding strong European Troika statement, as well as intensive diplomatic interactions in the region, leave the regime facing a disagreeable and unprecedented situation.

Therefore, three scenarios are likely to happen in the forthcoming negotiations:

– First: The regime fully complies, which is very unlikely. This hypothesis gives rise to factions that want reform within the regime. Khamenei would not have the same status and he is unwilling to relinquish power. 

– Second: Negotiations will be fruitless, and Plan B will be on the agenda.

– Third: The regime agrees to a partial agreement to satisfy the Western countries and buy more time again to continue its intention to enrich uranium and postpone the uprisings and demonstrations in Iran temporarily.

The latter hypothesis is the most probable one. This is where the international community must finally decide to stop the regime that not only plunges the Iranian people into increasing poverty and misery but also threatens the world with another war.

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Hamid Enayat

Hamid Enayat is an Iranian human rights activist and analyst based in Europe.

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