between the US and Iran, the latest moves in a long game of chess –

To renew the anti-nuclear agreement with Iran, we are on the home straight, but before crossing the finish line we need to play one last tough game of chess. Thus a Western source close to the Vienna negotiations summarizes the current stalemate in the negotiations, the success of which is indispensable to the Iranian economy but also to the prestige of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, who just by Trump in 2018) at the very top of its goals.
In addition to the two main protagonists, the Vienna talks interrupted for the umpteenth time on June 20 involve Germany, the EU, Russia and China, and indirectly involve the absent Israel which remains strongly opposed to any negotiation compromise with Tehran. But it will obviously be the USA and Iran, in the complex game that opens, to decide the final outcome of the tug-of-war.

The hope of Westerners, and also of the Russians and the Chinese, was to renew the original arrangement (Iranian nuclear limitations versus lifting of US sanctions) by the end of May. That is before the Iranian presidential elections on June 18, which saw the victory of the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi. But today it is Westerners themselves who believe that that goal was illusory in the light of another chess game, this time taking place inside Iran.

First move: outgoing President Rouhani was de facto marginalized already in May, and arouses some skepticism in recent days that Iran is already able to enrich uranium to 90 per cent, that is, to the level required to produce a nuclear device. Second move: the winner Raisi takes office on 5 August. Third move: from that moment the negotiations can resume (perhaps in the middle of the month) but to pull the strings will be Ayatollah Khamenei himself, more than ever supreme leader after the advent of his protégé Raisi.

It matters little if in the meantime the US hits the pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq, and if Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards incite the militias themselves to hit America harder. The background of any agreement will be of this type to the last, as is always the case in the most difficult international negotiations.

If anything, the fear that Khamenei will raise his demands and put a Biden against the wall which cannot completely ignore Israeli concerns. Or that Biden wants to put ballistic missiles and Iranian regional policy on the table, which would be unacceptable to Khamenei. It will be the two of them who will have to measure the moves, crucial for them but also for the whole Middle East region.

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July 15, 2021, 9:06 pm – change July 15, 2021 | 21:07

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