The best thing about the meeting called by the European Union in Vienna this Monday, with the assistance of Germany, China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia, on the one hand, and Iran, on the other, is, simply, that it has reached be celebrated. It may seem very little, if you think that the final objective of the double process that began on April 2 – a direct multilateral one, without the presence of the United States, and a bilateral, indirect one, between Tehran and Washington – is to return to the box that already All these players were occupied in June 2015, when they signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, by which Iran gave up on its controversial nuclear program and, in return, freed itself from all the sanctions that had been imposed on it since 2006. But it is It is necessary to remember that since June those appointments had been interrupted in the Austrian capital, after six rounds that had achieved nothing substantial.
For Iran, now under the presidency of a “tough” like Ebrahim Raisi, the return to the table implies, unequivocally, the recognition of the damage suffered by the sanctions reimposed by Washington and its allies since its disassociation from the agreement in May 2018. But In the same way, the return of Joe Biden’s team also means accepting that punishment has no possibility of getting Iran to put its knee to the ground, renouncing its nuclear program, putting an end to its interference in the internal affairs of some countries. (Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, especially) and abandoning their missile program.RELATED
On the contrary – without forgetting that it was the US that denounced the agreement, while the IAEA confirmed that Tehran was complying with the obligations contracted up to a year after the US scare – the time that has elapsed has only served for Iran to reactivate enrichment. of uranium well above the allowed limit (3.67%) Without, of course, it has stopped meddling in the affairs of its neighbors and continuing with the development of new missiles (an activity allowed to any country on the planet and not contemplated in the aforementioned agreement).
Meanwhile, the sanctions continue to harm, above all, a population that is increasingly critical of authorities clinging to an increasingly inefficient ideological model and incapable of eradicating the high level of corruption that exists, seeking, deep down, that this malaise ends up causing the internal collapse of the regime.
Realistically speaking, it seems clear that the deal is not close. On the one hand, it is clear that mutual distrust has increased and that the national environment in the United States and Iran plays against it, with Biden knowing that he can be accused of indulgence if he takes the first step, lifting the sanctions, and with Raisi leading a new wave of radicalism, under the watchful eye of the Pasdaran, the military of the Islamic National Guard.
On the other hand, returning to the starting box means once again destroying or delivering the nuclear material that Tehran has accumulated in this time, rejoining the Additional Protocol of 1997, allowing much more intrusive inspections by the IAEA, and removing centrifuges again; all this in exchange for a hypothetical promise that the US will not go back to its old ways. But neither Biden can guarantee that his successor will not choose to punish Iran in the future, nor is Raisi going to give up the tricks offered by his ties to Hezbollah and other groups to ensure his own safety from those who want his ruin.
In addition to the serious problem posed by the fit of different visions and objectives among the direct participants in Vienna, the agenda becomes even more complicated when the influence that other actors exert from outside the table is taken into account. This is how we must interpret the trip that the Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, makes to London and Paris, trying to convince the world that Iran cannot be trusted.
Nor do the rest of the Gulf countries welcome a new agreement, understanding that it brings Iran even closer to its dream of becoming the regional leader; This does not mean that they have formally received positively the resumption of contacts in Vienna. In reality, as Enrique Mora, the main coordinator of the EU of these meetings as Josep Borrell’s right-hand man, stated last April, a new agreement has more detractors than supporters.
But even so, and unless irrational factors finally prevail, everyone knows that there is no military solution to the Iranian challenge. Some, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, because the challenge is beyond their possibilities, no matter how convinced they are of the intrinsic evil of the Iranian regime. And others, like the United States, because they are already determinedly focused on facing the challenge posed by China as a strategic rival, and, therefore, they do not want to be bogged down in the Gulf again in a new conflict of very uncertain prognosis.
The agreement, in short, is the least bad option for all the countries involved. But that doesn’t mean it’s the most likely right now.