"The indirect talks in Vienna indicate that both sides want, in principle, to get to a deal where their interests are secured,” the U.S Professor Karl Kaltenthaler told in an exclusive interview with ILNA news agency.
Kaltenthaler who specializes in international security issues and the politics of the Middle East and South Asia believes that it is very possible that this is the beginning of a successful revitalization of the nuclear deal that the U.S. left in 2018. He continued “The Iranian leadership believes it has been burned badly once dealing with the U.S. It will need to be convinced that it will not be burned again.” He is a Professor of Political Science and Director of Security Studies at the University of Akron. He specializes in international security issues, violent extremism, and the politics of the Middle East and South Asia.
You can read his interview with ILNA news agency as follows:
Q: Vienna meeting signals new push to revive Iran nuclear deal; what is your analysis of the Vienna meeting?
A: The indirect talks in Vienna seem to be a serious first step by both the U.S. and Iran to get back on the footing to engage in a serious negotiation process about reviving the nuclear deal. The talks indicate that both sides want, in principle, to get to a deal where their interests are secured. Iran wants to get out from under the sanctions that cripple its economy and the U.S. wants to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It will be a long and difficult process to get to a deal that both sides can live with. Success is not a foregone conclusion.
Q: Will this summit lead to the revival of the nuclear deal?
A: It is very possible that this is the beginning of a successful revitalization of the nuclear deal that the U.S. left in 2018. But there are several things that could impede getting back to such a deal. One very important obstacle is the lack of trust between the U.S. and Iran. There is more distrust now than there was when the JCPOA was negotiated. Another very important factor is Israel. The Israeli government believes that trusting Iran to keep to the deal or dropping sanctions against Iran are dangers to Israeli security. Israel will try to keep a new nuclear deal between Iran and the western powers from happening. It will use whatever means necessary to keep Iran from being a stronger security threat to Israel.
Q: Iran urges US's Biden to lift all sanctions and rejoin nuclear deal but the Biden administration is ready to lift sanctions on Iran or not?
A: It is entirely possible that the U.S. will lift sanctions against Iran but it will take a long time before that happens. In no scenario will this be a quick thing to accomplish. The road to getting sanctions lifted is more complicated and difficult than it was in the run up to the JCPOA. It will also depend on how long the Iranian leadership is willing to wait to get sanctions lifted. Iran might lose patience in the process and decide that negotiations are fruitless.
Q: In such circumstances, will the 2015 deal be revived?
A: Given what the Biden administration wants and what the Iranian leadership wants, it is somewhat likely that the nuclear deal will be revived. To me, that means a slightly more than 50% chance that the deal will be revived. The range of countries in the Middle East that do not want the deal revived, the domestic opposition to the deal in the U.S., the distrust the Iranian leadership has of the U.S., and the actions of other groups could all play a role in making the revival of the deal difficult to achieve. That is why saying it is a foregone conclusion that the deal will be revived is unrealistic.
There is determination on the part of some actors to keep the nuclear deal alive and there is just as much determination by others to keep it from happening. Clearly, the two parties that matter the most in this situation are the leaders in Iran and the U.S. The leadership in Iran has more leeway to do what it wants but it has a great deal of distrust and wariness of U.S. intentions and the nature of U.S. politics. What happens if the negotiations stretch on longer than 3 years and there is a new U.S. administration that says it does not want to re-enter the deal? This is the uncertainty that comes with dealing with the U.S. The Iranian leadership believes it has been burned badly once dealing with the U.S. It will need to be convinced that it will not be burned again. This will difficult to do.
Q: In your opinion, will the Islamic Republic be willing to sign the re-agreement?
A: While the Iranian economy is in shambles that does not mean that the Iranian leadership will return to a nuclear deal. The Iranian leadership feels that it has to secure its national security as well as political interests. Being viewed as abdicating to American pressure is not something the Iranian leadership wants. Also, Iran has to be convinced that it is not making itself vulnerable to the perceived physical threat from the U.S., Israel, or Arab states that view Iran as an adversary. Having said that, it is possible that the Iranian leadership can believe that the U.S. government is serious about lifting sanctions and decides to fully implement its nuclear obligations. The Iranian government might try to continue to exercise leverage by raising the amount of uranium that it is enriching. These actions should not be viewed necessarily as indicative of Iran abandoning hope in the negotiations. If the U.S. government pulls out of the negotiations, this will be the sign that the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Iran is set on developing a nuclear weapons capability.