Iranian technicians, work with foreign colleagues at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, just outside the southern port city of Bushehr, Iran. (AP)

March 15, 2021

The US and Iran are going through a “very delicate” stage in light of the ongoing consultations to ensure a “gradual return” of full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to Western diplomats.

They expect Washington to take some measures in this direction despite the deteriorating attempts after Tehran decided to increase its uranium enrichment at a rate of 20 percent.

One diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the efforts are going through a “very delicate stage”, saying it was a “good sign” that Iran is willing to return to the agreement if first, the US lifts sanctions.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, affirmed that Washington was ready to return to the deal if Iran fully complied.

However, he warned that the situation has seriously deteriorated after Iran increased uranium production and enrichment to 20 percent, stressing that “this far exceeds any civil justification.”

He praised the visit of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, to Tehran last February.

Back then, Grossi told reporters that Iranian officials agreed to allow monitoring operations of its nuclear activities, which the diplomat considered an important sign that the nuclear deal is still active.

He revealed that the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Germany, and the US, as well as the US Special Envoy for Iran, continue to meet and consult regularly.

EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell proposed a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany (5+1 group), which Washington said it was ready to attend.

He indicated that Iran is yet to respond, stressing that Western foreign ministers “are closely involved in this matter.”

The diplomat also indicated that whoever wins the Iranian elections this summer will be a more hardliner figure than Rouhani, as he noticed there were vested interests linked to the negotiations.

However, he believes the coming president will be willing to protect his country’s interests, which will make it difficult to return to the negotiating table.

Another diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the sooner the US and Iran return to talks the better, revealing that European officials prefer to resolve matters quickly.

However, he admitted that “for various reasons, this does not seem possible.”

The diplomat believes the only way to solve this problem would be through mutual steps taken by both parties, stressing that Iran’s return to nuclear compliance is absolutely necessary.

Washington is expected to take some positive measures in order to move things forward, according to the official, adding: “the sooner this happens, the better. I hope it happens soon.”

He stressed that on paper this should not be difficult to implement, however, it may be very challenging politically in both Iran and the United States.

He noted that European “friends”, namely Britain, France, and Germany continue to encourage everyone to have “rational expectations” prioritizing a gradual return that follows a step-by-step approach to ensure full compliance.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.