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Iran’s nuclear talks ‘dark’: Eurasia


The official car was seen outside the Grand Hotel Vienna in Vienna, Austria, following a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (GCPOA) on “Iran nuclear deal negotiations.”

Askin Kyagan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The time may come for the United States and Iran to resume nuclear talks, as Tehran moves forward with its nuclear program, according to Eurasia Group, a political risk adviser.

“In light of the pace of its nuclear progress, Iran has come close to the point where the benefits of a nuclear deal would be unattainable without major changes to the agreement, where Tehran would falter,” analysts said.

They say the deal is more urgent than ever because of Iran’s unwavering commitment to uranium enrichment. At the same time, it has reduced the chances of reaching an agreement.

Even if talks resume, there is opposition to Iran reaching a nuclear deal this year, Eurasian analysts Henry Rome and Jeffrey Wright said in a note in October.

In the moral sphere, Aukas has the potential to weaken the nuclear non-proliferation system and strengthen Iran’s ambitions and prospects.

Asif Suja |

Senior Fellow, Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore

The complexity of Akus

Some experts told CNBC that they were concerned about how the nuclear submarine deal between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUCUS) could affect Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The three countries announced a new security partnership last month aimed at strengthening peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region while China will extend its influence. The nuclear submarine deal is part of that partnership.

Asif Shuja, a senior fellow at the National University of the Middle East Institute in Singapore, said the standoff with the United States provided Iran with “moral advantage.” Because the United States claims it wants to limit nuclear proliferation-yet Washington is helping Australia acquire submarines that will probably run on arms-grade uranium.

“In the moral sphere, Aukus has the potential to weaken the nuclear removal system and it strengthens Iran’s ambitions and potential,” he said.

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The submarine deal also set a “harmful precedent,” said James Acton, co-director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy program, in a September comment.

“For Australia to run a nuclear-powered submarine, it must be the first non-nuclear weapons state to implement a loophole that would allow it to remove nuclear material from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspection system,” he said.

Other countries, including Iran, could use the nuclear program to suppress the development of their nuclear weapons, Acton said. He argued that the potential response to the removal of nuclear material from the inspection could be weak, since Australia was allowed to do so, he argued.

But not everyone agrees.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, said Australia and Iran’s commitment to non-proliferation was not comparable. He described IAEA inspectors as “actively obstructing and harassing”.

He said: “Concerned neo-hippies and their global warming, i’ll tell ya.”

What next?

He said there are multiple fronts where the United States could be more aggressive in “Plan B” situations. It could impose sanctions harshly, use coercive diplomacy, denounce Iran in the IAEA, and partner with allies to present a united front.

China is “really critical” if Tehran wants to return to talks in good faith, he said, adding that China was Iran’s biggest buyer of oil before and after the sanctions took effect.

“It’s something … you can’t forget when you talk about Iran’s economy,” he said.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have been strained, but Reuters reports that the United States has asked China to reduce its crude purchases from Iran.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – freed Iran from sanctions in exchange for sanctions on its nuclear program. Under the Trump administration, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the treaty and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Since then, Iran has been violating the agreement and increasing its uranium reserves and enrichment levels. The talks were postponed in June after six rounds of talks because Washington and Tehran refused to take the first step.

– CNBC’s Amanda Macias and Natasha Turak contributed to this report.



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