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- Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Mohammad Javad Zarif, has published a 264-page document praising and defending the Rouhani administration’s foreign policy legacy.
- The foreign ministry report indicates that it might fall on President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi to finalize and conclude the Vienna negotiations. Iranian officials have also confirmed in their recent comments, that the Vienna negotiations will not resume until after the inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi in August.
- The report from the Iranian foreign ministry lists key sanctions and designations that are likely to be lifted upon full implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1.
- As of now, amid some US sanctions relief and Iran’s access to its foreign reserves, the Vienna talks between Iran and the P5+1 have hit a stonewall with both sides reluctant to accept major concessions.
- The country’s Supreme National Security Council will remain as the key decision-making body on the nuclear issue. The nuclear talks will continue under the Raisi administration, who has already endorsed the implementation of the nuclear agreement.
Last week, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a 264-page detailed report on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, to the Iranian parliament (Majlis). The document was published with the objective of defending the legacy of Rouhani’s foreign policy in general and the nuclear deal in particular. Moreover, it provided a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the Vienna negotiations between Iran and world powers.
The report further outlines the sanctions that will be removed as part of the newly modified agreement, while identifying a list of sanctions that will potentially remain intact amid the revival of the JCPOA. The report states that all JCPOA-related sanctions will be lifted in accordance with the new framework reached at the Vienna talks. In addition, all “Trump sanctions” in violation of the original accord, will be fully removed as well. In other terms, Washington will lift any sanctions that hamper the full implementation of the JCPOA, including those imposed after the signing of the nuclear deal during Obama’s presidency.
The report also suggests that the United States will remove sanctions on the Office of the Supreme Leader and will annul the terror designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Furthermore, Washington will also guarantee that there will be no provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), signed into law by the Trump administration, and the travel security measures signed by the Obama administration deemed a violation of the nuclear agreement by Tehran. Yet, it is important to note, the report doesn’t shy away from claiming that the United States will not touch any primary sanctions long imposed on Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
In a letter attached to the report, Foreign Minister Zarif expresses hope that what “has become achievable so far, be completed at the beginning of the thirteenth government.” In essence, he implicitly signals that concluding the negotiations is no longer in the hands of the current President and will most likely be finalized after Raisi’s inauguration.
Outlook for the Vienna Talks
Last week, Iran’s lead negotiator and deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi announced that the negotiations must wait until Riasi assumes office this August. Meanwhile, new demands from the Biden administration and recent escalations of regional tensions have complicated Tehran’s political calculus. Iran-based analyst, Hadi Khosroshahi argues that in recent rounds of negotiations, Washington has made the revival of the JCPOA conditional on Tehran’s acceptance of follow-on negotiations, particularly around Iran’s regional activities and its ballistic missile program.
On the other hand, Iran has also pushed the Americans to offer a “guarantee” for the JCPOA, aiming to ensure that the next US administration could not unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear deal again. Given the volatile dynamics of U.S domestic politics, the prospects for securing such a guarantee appear remote at best. Another source of contention is President Trump’s executive order on extending Iran’s arms embargo, an order endorsed by the Biden administration, despite the lifting of the embargo in accordance with United Nations Security Council 2231. In addition, the two sides also have serious differences over the steps toward the sanctions removal process. Tehran had previously demanded Washington to take the first trust-building step and lift key sanctions, allowing Iran to verify sanctions relief prior to returning to its nuclear commitments. As of now, the US has only accepted a limited 48-hour verification time for Iran, whereas Iran demands a weeks-long verification period. In this vein, Russian top negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov said in a tweet that a plan exists and its conceptual framework is understandable, though not agreed upon, and while details need to be clarified, he announced that “to some degree, the US met Iran halfway. Tehran’s position is also pragmatic.”
Despite the departure of the pro-JCPOA Rouhani administration, the consensus-based Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) will, regardless, remain as the key decision-making body on major foreign policy initiatives, soon to be headed by President-elect Raisi (who has already backed the full implementation of the JCPOA), and under the supervision of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.