04/06/2021, 10.40
IRAN - UNITED STATES
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Tehran and Washington ready to return to negotiating table

Analysts and experts speak of an encouraging "small step forward". Indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, could open today in Vienna. Ayatollah Khamenei withholds go-ahead for direct meetings. But unresolved issues such as support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Assad weigh on the future of the negotiations.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - News has emerged in recent days of a possible turning point: Tehran and Washington would be ready to start a negotiating table to try to save the international agreement on Iranian nuclear power (Jcpoa). The meetings could begin today in Vienna, Austria, in the presence of representatives of the two countries, as well as senior European, Russian and Chinese officials.

The deadlock was reportedly broken by a videoconference held last April 2 and organized by the European Union (EU) between the signatories of the agreement, with the sole exception of the United States, to try to unblock the dossier. If confirmed, this meeting could represent the turning point that ends a stalemate and opens the way to a new post-Trump era, which current White House tenant Joe Biden has repeatedly said he wants to dismiss.

Iranian authorities have progressively violated the terms of the agreement by easing restrictions on nuclear activities. The first steps came in 2019 after then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the JCPOA  in May 2018 and slapped the harshest sanctions in history on Iran, which tanked the Iranian economy.

Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour (LOJ) Ali Fathollah-Nejad, expert on Iran and collaborator of the Study Center for International Cooperation and Development (Cecid) at the University of Brussels, defines the possible meeting as "a small step forward ".

He adds, the speed at which the steps are taking place underscores "in a central sense in the urgency of Europe and perhaps of the United States" to tackle the question, also in consideration of the acceleration of the nuclear program by the ayatollahs.

The opening of talks mediated by the European Union represent progress, although these are "indirect meetings" because so far the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "has not granted the authorization to high-level dialogues", explains Ali Fathollah-Nejad.

"The American and Iranian delegations - adds the expert - should communicate through European intermediaries" before engaging in direct exchanges if "the Iranians will be satisfied with the American calendar for the lifting of sanctions".

Among the possible obstacles to the negotiations, the US intention to address other issues including support for Shiite groups in the region (Hezbollah and Hamas) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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