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US and Iranian ambassadors in Vienna to save the deal, but who blinks first?

A few months ago, things were even better for those who supported the deal. “When Biden won the election, everyone was scared about the Iran file,” said Chicco van der Meir, a nuclear weapons expert at Klingendale. After all, Biden had said during his campaign that he would renew the Iran deal. “But then he became president, and he didn’t. Now he says: We want to go back inside, but Iran has to abide by the agreements.”

In turn, Iran hopes that the United States, which created the stalemate in 2018, will be the first to move and lift sanctions. In addition, the country wants guarantees that the United States will not leave again if the two sides are reconstituted. “The United States had a special place in the 2015 agreement. Washington continued to be allowed to choose whether or not to extend this agreement. I can only imagine what Iran is saying now: we do not want it back.”

Synchronized approach

The United States has offered to phase out sanctions, but Iran has not. “It’s about who blinks first,” says Van der Meir. “That too is a matter of honor. But in the end, Iran will have to compromise to get rid of sanctions. Iran is a small player, the United States is a superpower.”

One way to defend the deal is a “synchronized approach” in which the United States raises a small portion of sanctions while Iran begins to further reduce its nuclear program. It remains to be seen whether it will work for both parties, Moore said.

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Anyway, there is a lot of pressure on the talks because there are presidential elections in Iran in June. The current moderate president Rohani no longer qualifies, so there will be a new president anyway. Van der Meir: “Hard workers have a chance to win at this time, and they are not interested in a deal with the United States, so there is an urgency. If there is no agreement before the election, it may be too late.”