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New approach of Iran’s diplomatic apparatus on nuclear issue

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and top negotiator Ali Baqeri-Kani (R) and EU deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora

By Abdolreza Hadizadeh

With the coming to power of the new administration in Iran, everyone was waiting to see the strategy of our country’s diplomatic apparatus regarding the nuclear issue. This key issue, which has always overshadowed Iran’s foreign policy over the past two decades, was handed over to the 13th administration in 2021 with considerable diplomatic experience.

The new officials leading the foreign policy apparatus have repeatedly stated that the foreign policy of this administration will neither start nor will it end with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In this regard, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said since assuming office that his team is reviewing the previous rounds of negotiations and that the talks with the 4+1 countries will start soon. But as time was on Iran’s side, there was no rush by the officials to begin new talks. This, of course, confused other member states.

Finally, three days ago, Ali Baqeri-Kani, the deputy foreign minister for political affairs who seems to be in charge of leading the talks, announced that the new negotiations will kick off on November 29.

Before examining why that date was picked for the start of the negotiations, let us consider the fresh terminology used by officials regarding the forthcoming negotiations. In remarks made by Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, we can see a number of points that show a change in the approach of the country’s diplomatic apparatus. They refer to the announced date as the “start of result-oriented negotiations” and refuse to use the term “continuation of negotiations,” which refers to the continuation of the six rounds of talks in Vienna that failed to reach results. In other words, the diplomatic apparatus has introduced pragmatism as its main feature in future negotiations, as opposed to the “talk for the sake of talk” approach.

Iranian diplomats also use the term “negotiations to lift sanctions” instead of “negotiations to revive the JCPOA.” The 13th administration believes that the revival of the JCPOA and the US return to the accord are not of substantial importance to Iran, but rather, they may even lead to more harm and the triggering of the dispute mechanism against our country. What matters to Iran is the removal of sanctions. The sanctions, imposed under various titles such as the executive orders of Barack Obama or Donald Trump, must not be kept in place, but rather, all of the sanctions mentioned in the JCPOA and those imposed after it was inked, which include more than 1,500 sanctions, need to be removed. After that, it is Iran’s turn to verify the actions of the opposite sides. The extensive experience of the Islamic Republic of Iran has made it unwilling to welcome any nominal JCPOA revival or a US return without fulfilling its core commitments.

But why November 29?

The new Iranian administration believes that national interests will be achieved by maximizing the country’s power, and that dialog is merely a tool for bargaining and materializing the desired interests. In other words, increasing power components to obtain more playing cards can fulfill Iran’s main demands. In this regard, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced that the country has produced more than 200 kg of 20% enriched uranium and 25 kg of 60% enriched uranium. International security experts believe that November 29 is the date when Iran will reach the stage of nuclear deterrence for its enrichment power. This amount of enrichment can send a powerful message to the other side of the table. If Iran had continued the previous strategy (strategic patience), the outcome would have increased pressures and at the same time marked an end to our country’s nuclear power, because under the JCPOA, Iran must not increase its enrichment level beyond 3.5 percent and must export the enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg. The speed of Iran’s enrichment shows that it will not accept restrictions on its nuclear activities in the case of American non-compliance.

Also, November 29 is the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Majid Shahriari by Mossad agents in Tehran. Dr. Shahriari is one of the main scientists in Iran linked with the 20% enrichment project. The importance of 20% fuel enrichment that was realized through the great action of Iranian scientists lies in the fact that in the 2010 negotiations and the Tehran meeting, the Americans refused to accept the issue of fuel swap with Iran. Although the presidents of Turkey and Brazil had arrived in Tehran with a letter from the then US president, when the Tehran meeting reached a balanced agreement, the Americans rejected it, in a move that even embarrassed Turkey and Brazil. The US government believed that Iran did not have the capacity to enrich fuel to 20% and turn it into fuel plates, and therefore, it did not see the need for the fuel swap. But a year later, Iran announced the acquisition of this important knowledge to meet its domestic needs. Despite assassinations of several Iranian scientists and numerous sabotage acts by the Zionist regime and the United States, Iran’s nuclear program has not stopped. Symbolically, choosing November 29 can convey the message to the West that the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite all hostilities, has been successful in this path and is determined to go on.

On the other hand, November 29 is a few days after the quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA, which had previously gained many beyond-safeguards pledges from Iran under the JCPOA, has lost this special privilege in recent months and has faced a strategy of active resistance from Iran. This international organization, which has lost its special influence in Iran, has in recent days asked Iran to immediately re-grant JCPOA-based access to its inspectors. This request, however, has been rejected by Iran, which has not gained the promised benefits from the JCPOA. Iran said that the special access is conditional on the removal of sanctions and taking a stand by other countries against terrorist acts on the country’s important facilities. The recent sabotage acts of the Zionist regime on Iran’s nuclear sites have been another disputed issue. The Agency is tasked with providing technical and scientific support to its member states. However, it not only has not acted on this issue, but it has also remained silent in the face of the Zionist regime’s adventurism. The terrorist acts of the Zionist regime could have created a nuclear catastrophe without the vigilance of Iranian officials. In such circumstances, Western officials and the Agency have called for fixing the cameras damaged in these sabotage acts without condemning those acts! Despite the need to act as an impartial and technical institution, the IAEA has been affected by the Zionist regime’s biased and political reports in recent years. Therefore, the IAEA and Western governments will have until November 29 to prove their good faith and create the atmosphere of negotiations based on goodwill.

Western governments are now seeing the failure of the maximum pressure campaign that was initiated since the US withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018. Not only has Iran, under Western pressure, become reluctant to pursue JCPOA-like agreements on its missiles and regional role, but it has begun to enrich uranium to 60 percent for the first time and is rapidly advancing in that direction. The European trio and the US have also received the message that in the event they do not abide by their commitments, Iran will not tolerate the ignoring of its nuclear rights.

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