By Elham Abedini
Prior to the 2021 presidential election, mainstream media kept warning about the rise of so-called “hardliners” in Iran, which they claimed would steer the Islamic Republic away from diplomacy. Indeed, what happened, in reality, was the exact opposite. President Ebrahim Raeisi, on his maiden foreign trip, attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit and the outcome was for Iran to become a full member of the Eurasian alliance.
What ensued was a rising number of meetings and exchanges between Iranians and foreign officials. Most notably, Iran signed a trilateral deal with neighbors Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to facilitate the transfer of gas. Tehran also took the initiative as talks resumed in Vienna on the revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement, which has been in trouble because of America’s unilateral exit and imposition of sanctions on the Islamic Republic. In Vienna, Iran put two proposals on the negotiating table aimed at helping the diplomatic process move forward: one on the removal of the US sanctions and the other concerning Iran’s commitments under the agreement.
The notably large delegation that Iran sent to Vienna, including economic experts, showed Iran had returned to the talks with a firm resolve and wanted to achieve a good deal, which would bring no more than the commitments stipulated in the 2015 deal and no less than the removal of all the sanctions that Washington imposed on Iran in violation of the accord after its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In fact, Iran’s legitimate demands have been precise: the country wants to reap the economic dividends of the JCPOA, something that never happened, not even under ex-President Barack Obama whose administration inked the agreement.
Trump unilaterally left the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed a series of sanctions against Iran under his so-called maximum pressure campaign. Although, his successor Joe Biden stressed the importance of the Iran deal during his election campaign and criticized Trump for pulling the US out of the deal, he has so far been dragging his feet on a return to the JCPOA, despite rejoining several other international deals that Trump had left during his four-year term.
While Iran has been showing seriousness and a firm determination to achieve a diplomatic solution besides expressing full preparedness for result-oriented dialog, the US is still trying to portray itself as the party that has the right to make even more demands. This is while Washington is no longer a party to the JCPOA and is not allowed to directly join the Vienna talks due its unilateral exit. Iran will automatically benefit from the JCPOA if the agreement actually brings about a removal of the sanctions. The US needs the JCPOA as well, although it has been trying to conceal it. Iran has repeatedly emphasized that it will not negotiate for the sake of negotiations and will not accept erosive negotiations. It is therefore clear that Iran is not wasting time and is seeking a quick good deal. Still, the West sets artificial deadlines for the Islamic Republic.
Now that the “maximum pressure” campaign is at its peak and the US is left with no more sanctions to impose on Iran. It is, in fact, the Western side, not Tehran, that is facing a deadline since Iran keeps enhancing its nuclear industry on a daily basis much to the West’s dismay. On the other hand, the Biden administration, which is weak and has lost its popularity due the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, currently needs a foreign policy achievement to avoid an election defeat in 2024 against a Republican rival.
The interesting thing is that a propaganda campaign launched by the mainstream media against Iran was in full swing even before the Raeisi administration took office and reaffirmed its serious resolve for active diplomacy and dialog. Even after Iran put forward the two proposals in Vienna, the Western governments called Tehran’s demands “unrealistic” and “inconsistent” with the JCPOA. In the US, some interest groups and lobbyists have been trying to persuade Biden to return to the JCPOA and advertise it as a “diplomatic achievement,” turning a blind eye to Washington’s earlier violations of international law.
Although Western media and lobby groups are trying to change the narrative and show the reality upside down, they will not be able to change the truth or hide the realities for long.
Elham Abedini is a PhD student in European Studies.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)