As Iran nuclear talks enter final stretch, opposition grows in US

United States Senator Bob Menendez started an hour-long presentation on the Senate floor last week with a poster featuring a green, white and red bomb – the colours of the Iranian flag. Iran nuclear talks

Over the next 60 minutes, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee argued tirelessly against reviving the Iran nuclear deal, warning that the curbs the pact would impose on what he called Tehran’s “dangerously and rapidly escalating nuclear programme” are not enough.

“At this point, we seriously have to ask: What exactly are we trying to salvage?” Menendez, a key Democrat, said on February 1.

As Iran nuclear deal negotiations enter the “final stretch”, Menendez is not alone in voicing opposition to reviving the landmark agreement, with Republicans and hawkish Democrats in Washington, DC warning President Joe Biden against restoring the pact.

That more vocal US rebuke of the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a sign that a deal is imminent, analysts say – and that Biden is pushing ahead to secure it despite potential political costs.

“This is a clear signal, as we also know from other reporting, that a deal is in sight. The negotiators are close to the end goal,” said Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian-American journalist and analyst. “And that’s why the opposition is growing louder – because they see it as something imminent and want to stop it, as they tried to do in 2015.”

Talks in Vienna

The eighth round of indirect US-Iranian talks resumed in Vienna this week after a hiatus that saw diplomats return to their respective capitals for consultations.

The 2015 multilateral agreement saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions against its economy. Former US President Donald Trump nixed the deal in 2018 and started reimposing sanctions on Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.

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