‘Not clear why they came,’ US official says as Iran talks end in Doha without progress (updated)
'Unfortunately, not yet the progress the EU team…had hoped for,” EU coordinator Enrique Mora said of the Doha talks.
Two days of indirect US Iran talks wrapped up in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday night, with US officials and experts suggesting Iran was still asking for excessive concessions in order to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact.
“As expected, alas,” a senior US diplomat responded to a question how the talks had gone.
“Not clear why they came given what they came with,” he said, referring to the Iranians.
“Two intense days of proximity talks in Doha,” European Union Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora, who mediated the talks, wrote on Twitter Wednesday night (June 29). “Unfortunately, not yet the progress the EU team as coordinator had hoped for.”
“We will keep working with even greater urgency to bring back on track a key deal for non-proliferation and regional stability,” Mora continued.
“Absolute deadlock,” Ali Vaez, director of the Iran program at the International Crisis Group, told me.
The State Department expressed disappointment.
“Indirect discussions in Doha have concluded, and while we are very grateful to the EU for its efforts, we are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU’s initiative and therefore that no progress was made,” a State Department spokesperson said by enail late Wednesday.
“In Doha, as before, we made clear our readiness to quickly conclude and implement a deal on mutual return to full compliance with the JCPOA based on almost a year and a half of negotiations,” the spokesperson continued. “Yet in Doha, as before, Iran raised issues wholly unrelated to the JCPOA and apparently is not ready to make a fundamental decision on whether it wants to revive the deal or bury it.”
The US team, headed by US Iran envoy Rob Malley, was due to fly back from Doha Thursday.
A European official earlier said the first day of talks Tuesday had been “slow.”
“The usual first day of procrastination,” he added.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman told Iranian media Wednesday the Doha talks were only scheduled to last two days.
“Intensive talks were held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Doha with the mediation of Enrique Mora,” new Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Naser Kanani tweeted.
“Regarding the…next stage of talks,… [Iran nuclear negotiator Ali] Bagheri and Mora will always be in touch,” Kanani wrote.
Iran had been fully complying with the JCPOA for over two years, according to the UN atomic watchdog agency, the IAEA. But then-US President Trump quit it in 2018, and re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors. Iran since 2019 has been progressively exceeding the pact’s nuclear limits to protest the lack of sanctions relief it had been due to receive in exchange for rolling back its nuclear program.
Many Israeli military intelligence leaders favor a revival of the nuclear pact, Israeli newspaper Ynet reported over the weekend.
“The officials in support of a return to the deal listed by the news site were the head of the [Israel Defense Force’s] Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva; Brig. General Amit Sa’ar, who leads the Military Intelligence’s Research Division; Brig. Gen. Oren Setter, the head of the IDF’s Strategic Division; and Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, the military official in charge of Iran affairs,” the Times of Israel, citing Ynet, reported on June 26.
“I believe that’s because they are smart people who understand that there are only bad options in front of Israel and you have to choose the ‘least bad,’” Danny Citrinowicz, who previously headed the Israel military intelligence Iran research section, told me June 26, of why Israeli defense intelligence officials favor a revival of the deal.
Diplomatic is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.