Nuclear talks: Any chance of a deal with Tehran?
After a break of several months, diplomats from France, the UK, Germany, Russia and China are currently meeting with Iranian representatives to resume talks on the 2015 nuclear accord. After former US president Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, Iran significantly boosted its nuclear programme. Now Tehran is demanding that all sanctions against it be lifted. Europe's press sees little chance of an agreement.
At best simply delayed
Since the lifting of sanctions is Tehran's priority, the expectations should not be too high, says La Repubblica:
“In the meantime, the UK has signed a joint communiqué with Israel in which it pledges to do all it can to prevent Iran from coming into possession of a nuclear weapon. Given this, it is already a success that Tehran has agreed to discuss its programmes. The most optimistic outcome is that a partial and tentative agreement to freeze certain activities will be reached in exchange for the easing of certain sanctions. An agreement that keeps Iran a few months away from building the nuclear bomb.”
Sanctions must be kept in place
The regime in Tehran can't be trusted, warns The Daily Telegraph:
“It was an act of monumental stupidity to remove sanctions on the world's leading funder of terror and allow ourselves to be deceived by its promise not to continue its nuclear weapons programme. ... In the year after the 2015 deal, Iran's economy grew by 12.5 percent (according to the IMF). Had President Trump not intervened, Iran would have become a cash-rich terror-funder. Yet reimposing sanctions from 2018 onwards immediately put the squeeze on the economy. Iran's GDP shrank by 4.8 per cent in 2018 and by 9.5 per cent in 2019.”
Perhaps the bomb is more important
Helsingin Sanomat is uncertain whether Iran will even seek an agreement:
“There has been a change in government in Iran since the negotiations began in the spring, and the signals are troubling. By taking a hard line, President Ebrahim Raisi is trying to secure the best possible price for a deal, including the lifting of all sanctions. But perhaps Iran no longer wants an agreement at all, to judge by the way it's humiliating the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). ... The most dangerous scenario would be if Iran believes that the country will benefit more from nuclear deterrence than be harmed by the economic blockade and hostile relations. ... If the negotiations fail, chaos could once again loom in the Middle East. Israel in particular is not known for its patience.”
Between a rock and a hard place
Neither a failure of the negotiations nor a minimal consensus would be a positive outcome, warns columnist Pierre Haski in France Inter:
“If the talks collapse, there will be a real risk of confrontation because Israel and its new Arab allies in the Gulf will not tolerate Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon - a weapon that only Israel possesses in the region, and whose acquisition by Iran would alter the strategic balance. Without ever admitting it, Israel has already carried out numerous acts of sabotage on the nuclear programme - assassinations of experts, cyberattacks and even destabilising operations such as disrupting petrol supplies. ... The other risk is that of an agreement based on minimal consensus, which would not restore confidence and would ultimately lead to yet another escalation in this shadow war.”