November 27, 2021 | Video Bytes

Four things to know before today’s #ViennaTalks on the Iran nuclear deal

November 27, 2021 Video Bytes

Four things to know before today’s #ViennaTalks on the Iran nuclear deal

Follow the conversation on Clubhouse

At 2:30pm EST on Monday, November 11, FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz and FDD Senior Advisor Richard Goldberg will host a discussion on the Clubhouse app following day one of the nuclear negotiations resuming in Vienna.

Not on Clubhouse? We will share audio of the conversation on our website following the event.


Join the conversation on Twitter with #ViennaTalks

Video Bytes on the #ViennaTalks

FDD Senior Advisor Richard Goldberg



With nuclear negotiations set to resume with the Islamic Republic of Iran, there are four things interested parties ought to know about Iran’s negotiating behavior, about outcomes and about what to expect.

The first of course, is that the new cast of characters at the helm of the Islamic Republic of Iran are more comfortable with contestation and escalation than ever before. While macroeconomics does dictate that they ultimately do need a deal, that they ultimately are still seeking to unfreeze their frozen assets abroad and that their main goal is sanctions relief rather than becoming a good nuclear stakeholder, ultimately — when you look at the cabinet of Iran’s sanctioned president, Ebrahim Raisi — it’s the most sanctioned cabinet in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And that’s no small achievement based on previous individuals who have served in other cabinets of other Iranian presidents.

A sidebar from that is the sense of vindication these ultra-hardliners — who are now at the helm — have, coupled with the sense of vindication of Iran Supreme Leader, a title meant to be taken rather literally. Iran Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, sets the direction for Iran’s foreign and security, as well as nuclear, policies. And, ultimately, he believes he survived the peak of Western pressure, the peak of US pressure and the peak of maximum pressure, and that Washington is not comfortable exploring pressure against his regime and his country. And, ultimately, he believes he can outlast whatever entreaties or whatever pressure Washington may try to restore to get Iran to come to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal known as the JCPOA.

Number two, of course, is the fact that there is a fate worse than the JCPOA. There is of course, not war, but the idea that the Iranians could agree to something less than the JCPOA, like a JPOA, which was a 2013 interim nuclear deal. This would unfreeze some of Iran’s frozen assets, but legitimize and allow Iran to continue enrichment at lower levels. Something that previous UN Security Council resolutions sought to address and make sure Iran did not engage in, as well as ultimately allow Washington to claim some sort of victory, pivot from the region, and not care about the breadth and depth of Iran’s other threats. In short, a bad deal, even a bad interim deal, is not a good for foundation to build a broader and better Iran policy and not a good foundation to build a broader and better Middle East policy or a nuclear policy.

The third is while many eyes will be on Vienna for the resumption of nuclear negotiations, it’s the Board of Governor’s meeting that actually predates the nuclear negotiations that scholars, Iran watchers, analysts and policy makers should be keeping their eyes on like a hawk. It’s no accident that Iran chose a date after the Board of Governors, because Iran has long held any kind of nuclear progress or the prospect of diplomacy hostage to not being censored for its nuclear gains and nuclear violations of nonproliferation agreements much more important than the JCPOA.

In fact, several times in 2021 already, the regime escaped censure at the IAEA Board of Governors by creating crises, by pretending to resolve crises of its own making and by holding diplomatic progress hostage. So, in essence, look at the way the West behaves in the Board of Governor’s meeting at the IAEA, and then you’ll have a good idea of how Iran is going to be behaving. Because again, Iran is holding progress on one track hostage to another.

And lastly, there is much talk of plan B, that is Iran’s plan B for continued escalation and violation. There is the potential for will the Biden administration adopt a tougher line, a tougher plan against the Islamic Republic of Iran, perhaps more sanctions, more diplomatic pressure? There is of course, discussion of Israel’s plan B, perhaps more military pressure, perhaps sabotage. But there is one actor whose plan B has not been mentioned, and that really should, given their nuclear specific interests with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that is Europe.

What is Europe’s plan B? What are the E3 countries doing to bridge the trans-Atlantic gap? What are the E3 countries doing to make sure Iran is held accountable for its nuclear violations? And what are the E3 countries doing, given the other interests that they have in the Middle East and making sure that they are able to also work with Washington to counter the regime’s growing aggression and malign foreign policies in the region?

So, ultimately, whether it’s about understanding Iran’s increased comfortability with escalation, prospects of an interim deal being resurrected rather than the final deal, the importance of the IAEA Board of Governors or the role in Europe in all of this, the upcoming Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna, November 29th, are going to be an important milestone for US-Iran policy moving ahead.


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Missiles Iran Nuclear Iran Sanctions Sanctions and Illicit Finance