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What’s holding back a new nuclear deal with Iran?

Some of the terms of the 2015 deal have even approached their end without extension or renewal in sight


By Tariq Al Homayed

Published: Tue 3 May 2022, 11:28 PM

Since the beginning of the Iran nuclear negotiations, we have been hearing US and Western warnings that time is running out on a deal.

However, it’s been a year of talks without the signing of a final agreement, and some of the terms of the 2015 deal have even approached their end without extension or renewal in sight.

The Biden administration sought to appear completely different from the former Trump administration, which had withdrawn from the 2015 deal, but a return to an agreement with Iran turned out to be not as easy as it had imagined.

To date, US and Western sources are talking about the possibility of a nuclear agreement taking place, but without specifying a time frame.

All we know is that Iran’s request to remove the Revolutionary Guards from the terrorist list is one of the final obstacles to achieving an agreement.

Delisting the Revolutionary Guards as a terror group is facing opposition in the US, both from Republicans and Democrats, and we have witnessed harsh hearings of US officials regarding the Iranian file.

“I believe the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to be a terrorist organization and I do not support them being delisted,” US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Moreover, pivotal countries in the region also strongly oppose the delisting. This opposition comes despite European efforts to differentiate between the Revolutionary Guards’ political and military wings, like the distinction they drew for Hamas and Hezbollah.

Despite European efforts, the US administration is reluctant as it fears removing the Revolutionary Guards from the terrorist list which could affect the results of upcoming midterm elections.

Media leaks suggest that the Biden administration will not remove the Revolutionary Guards from the list.

The US wants guarantees from Iran that it would not launch attacks in retaliation for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. Iran rejects such guarantees at a time when the terrorist leader of the Iran-aligned Hezbollah is threatening to target Israel directly in retaliation for Israel’s targeting of Iranian assets in Syria, and in other countries.

It is clear that Iran is reading into US hesitation and European leniency regarding the nuclear file well, especially since a well-informed source has pointed out that the Europeans believe that there is no point in setting a time limit for the nuclear agreement.

This goes to show European weakness, as Europe hopes to get its piece of the pie after the lifting of sanctions on Iran, especially with the economic repercussions of the war in Ukraine on Europe. Certainly, Teheran sees this as a bargaining chip.

So far, nothing is clear about the Iranian nuclear file, and a source familiar with the progress of the negotiations told me that there is not only a lack of clarity in negotiations, there are also other concerns about Iran’s covert operations.

“None of the negotiating parties is ready to declare that the negotiations have collapsed because they will bear the consequences of announcing that,” said the source.

The danger in all of this lies in the lack of clarity about a file that could take us to the brink, whether an agreement is reached or not.

The writer is a leading Saudi journalist and editor

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