At the UN, Western frustration over the lack of progress with Iran

The United States and the Europeans do not hide their frustration, mixed with annoyance, with Iran, which has offered no “clear indicationThis week at the UN on his intentions for resuming negotiations to save the Iran nuclear deal.

«The window of opportunity is open, but won’t stay open forever“, Warned Thursday a senior American official on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Negotiations started in Vienna

This annual meeting was to be an opportunity for Westerners to take the pulse of the new Iranian government, with the video speech by ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raïssi and the multiple backstage meetings with his Foreign Minister Hossein Amir- Abdollahian, who made the trip to New York.

Indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran began in April in Vienna through the intermediary of Europeans, China and Russia, other signatories to the 2015 agreement. Objective: to save this text which is supposed to prevent the Islamic Republic from establishing itself. the atomic bomb, which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the United States in 2018.

His successor Joe Biden said he was ready to return to it, and to lift at least part of the sanctions that the Republican billionaire had reinstated against Iran. But on condition that the enemy country also returns to the nuclear constraints from which it has freed itself to protest against American pressure. However, these negotiations have been suspended since the Iranian presidential election in June.

“Do not start from scratch”

In turn, the French, German and British foreign ministers, as well as the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, have or will follow one another with their Iranian counterpart with a single requirement. Briton Liz Truss has “urged Iran to resume negotiations quickly», According to a statement from London in unison with its allies.

«After the week of the UN General Assembly, the return to full respect“Of the nuclear agreement”remains the priorityEuropean negotiator Enrique Mora tweeted Thursday. According to him, all the great powers that signed the 2015 text with Tehran, including Moscow and Beijing, “agree on the need to resume negotiations as soon as possible, where they left off” in June. “Negotiations do not have to start from scratchAdded Russian Mikhail Ulyanov, also on Twitter.

Alas, this united front should leave New York empty-handed. “Nothing happened, changed or made us more optimisticAt the UN, said the US official, on condition of anonymity. “As of yet, there is clearly no indication, clear indication, that Iran is ready to return.” and “to try to resolve outstanding issues», He lamented. According to Josep Borrell, the Iranian minister has certainly said he is ready to relaunch the Vienna process “at a near date“. But that’s all. In Tehran, his spokesperson remained just as vague, citing a recovery “in the next weeks».

“We are ready to be patient”

«We do not feel them in the desire to speed things up», Worries a French diplomatic source. An alarming sign, for Europeans as for Americans: the Iranians refused to hold the traditional ministerial meeting of countries still members of the agreement, organized each year on the sidelines of the UN assembly and that the French Jean-Yves Le Drian had yet judged almost certain at the beginning of the week.

«We’re willing to be patient, but it’s been three months” and “since then Iran has continued to ramp up its nuclear program», Noted the American official. Before reiterating Washington’s warning: it will soon be too late to save the deal, even if it is for now an ultimatum with no deadline. And the Biden government will then have to implement a plan B that it is careful not to reveal at this stage.

For Barbara Slavin, Iran specialist at the American think tank Atlantic Council, the Iranians “make the pleasure last“, In particular because they have not yet chosen their negotiators and they”try to figure out if they can get a little moreThan the previous government. “But I still think they have to come back to the negotiating table“, She told AFP, referring to the country’s deleterious economic situation. “They really need a lifting of the sanctions.»


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