The two-day talks held in Doha have been described by the Iranians as “a test for the western participants of the JCPOA to implement their commitments.”
Indirect talks between Iran and the United States centred around breaking a months-long impasse in negotiations to secure the revival of the 2015 nuclear pact have come to an end in Qatar with little progress.
Sources familiar with the two-day talks pointed the blame at Washington’s inflexibility to guarantee Iran’s economic benefit under the deal, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The talks, which began on Tuesday, were held between Iran’s lead negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani and European Union’s Deputy Foreign Policy Chief Enrique Mora in the Qatari capital as part of a fresh round of negotiations to get back on track.
A US State Department spokesperson claimed on Wednesday: “While we are very grateful to the EU for its efforts, we are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU’s initiative and therefore that no progress was made,” CNN reported.
The spokesperson went on to say that Iran “raised issues wholly unrelated to the JCPOA and apparently is not ready to make a fundamental decision on whether it wants to revive the deal or bury it.”
Slamming those arguments, Mohammad Marandi, an advisor to the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, said that the Doha talks on discussing outstanding disputes over the nuclear accord have not “failed and the negotiations will continue.”
“Because of the Biden administration’s weakness and its inability to make a final decision, the Doha meeting, by now, was not effective in making progress in negotiations and the revival of the JCPOA,” the semi-official Tasnim News Agency wrote.
Saying that the negotiations were not expected to halt in just two days, Marandi said “we do not take US media statements as serious.”
“The Americans must provide the guarantees that Iran wants to make sure that they do not stab us in the back like in the past,” he added.
Marandi further stated the talks did not cease to develop after the Vienna talks pause, however, he went on to describe the Doha talks in the last two days as a “focused negotiation.”
Washington has repeatedly pointed accusatory fingers to “other parties of slowing down and obstructing the talks, instead of proposing practical initiatives to advance the talks,” Mehr News Agency reported.
The Doha talks did not include the participation of China, Russia and European participants of the 2015 nuclear accord, unlike talks previously held in Vienna, “because they have no outstanding issue with the revival of the deal,” reports said.
The obstacle impeding a successful finalisation in the new round of talks is reportedly due to US’ insistence on a plan it had proposed during the seventh round of the Vienna talks, “which excludes any guarantee that Iran will enjoy economic benefits” from the deal.
“Unfortunately, not yet the progress the EU team as coordinator had hoped-for,” Enrique Mora, the European Union envoy mediating the discussions wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We will keep working with even greater urgency to bring back on track a key deal for non-proliferation and regional stability.”
In a tweet, an Iran foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday said Mora and Iran’s negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani “will remain in touch regarding the continuation of talks and the next stage.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian earlier said the Islamic Republic was “serious” about finalising a pact in Doha.
“If the American side has serious intentions and is realistic, an agreement is available at this stage and in this round of negotiations,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA earlier on Wednesday.
The “red-lines” that cannot be compromised, for Iran’s part, have been described as lifting all sanctions as related to the initial nuclear agreement as well as creating a mechanism to verify they have been lifted.
The Islamic Republic is also keen on a guarantee that no US President will be able to unilaterally withdraw from the accord again.
Washington unilaterally abandoned the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018 under the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran. In addition, the US reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Iranian officials earlier said they were hoping for progress in Qatar, however warned the US to abandon the “Trump method” of negotiating.
“We hope that, God willing, we can reach a positive and acceptable agreement if the United States abandons the Trump method,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi said, according to reports.
He described the method as “non-compliance with international law and past agreements and disregard for the legal rights of the Iranian people.”
Meanwhile, Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian on Wednesday evening and discussed the latest developments to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
No further details of the telephone conversation have been reported.
Bagheri Kani described Doha’s hosting of the latest round of negotiations as a testament to Qatar’s “goodwill in promoting dialogue and interaction,” reports said.
The Iranian top diplomat held talks with Sheikh Mohammed on Wednesday, where the former expressed “the friendship and fraternity between the two countries as a valuable asset for all-out improvement of ties between Tehran and Doha.”
Bagheri Kani reiterated that Tehran is in support of the “constructive role of Qatar in regional and international arenas.”
Qatar’s mediating role in nuclear talks
Doha has played a crucial role in mediating to resolve issues among various parties in recent years, however, prior to the negotiations in Doha this week, officials had repeated Qatar had no official role in the nuclear talks.
Qatar’s foreign minister confirmed that Doha is “not effectively or officially a mediator,” but nevertheless, the Gulf country hopes to bridge the gap between Iran and the US.
In late March, the top Qatari diplomat said Iran’s foreign affairs “certainly” affects Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as it is a neighbouring nation.
Sheikh Mohammed reiterated the country’s firm stance in liaising a constructive dialogue between Iran and the United States through its respective communication channels.
The latest round of talks come two weeks before US President Joe Biden makes his first official visit to the region. As part of a regional tour that kicks off in Israel between 13 and 16 July, President Biden will be attending a GCC+3 summit in Riyadh.