With talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal expected to continue in Vienna, there is very little confidence that the end goal will be achieved as statements from Iranian regime officials have intensely reasserted their hardline posture. This decline in confidence fell sharply following the regime’s withdrawal from talks in June and the subsequently stalled process that followed. 

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said, “Over the course of the week, that situation received increasingly broad recognition as Western participants in the Vienna talks expressed their disappointment and frustration over Tehran’s apparent refusal to compromise. The regime continues to insist upon comprehensive relief from US sanctions without offering anything whatsoever in return.” 

The Iranian regime began their requests for relief from sanctions when former president Hassan Rouhani was still in office. Since those days, the regime has further knuckled down with even more hardline leadership, leading to the installation of the current president Ebrahim Raisi, who was handpicked by the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to take over the role this year. 

It was during Raisi’s ‘election’ back in June when the regime made the decision to stall the nuclear deal talks. At the time, the regime’s critics warned that as Raisi came to power, that the regime’s malign activities would likely increase immensely and judging from the subsequent surge in unrest in Iran, the regime’s violent repression of demonstrations and the increase in executions across Iran, it appears that their fears were well founded. 

The NCRI said, “Raisi’s own background demonstrates his connection to that first goal, in that he was one of the leading perpetrators of the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners during the summer of 1988.” 

It’s not just Raisi who has a questionable background, as the majority of officers in his administration are either affiliated with the regime’s hardline paramilitary, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or have sanctions and international arrest warrants against them for their involvement in terrorism or human rights abuses.  

One of the reasons behind why the regime has continuously tried to stall nuclear deal talks is so that they could secretly advance their nuclear program. Following the release of the latest quarterly report on the program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the regime’s head of the Iranian nuclear authority boasted openly that the IAEA had underestimated the amount of 20% purity enriched uranium that they had stockpiled. 

The NCRI said, “Even by the IAEA estimates, the regime’s current stockpiles could yield more than half the amount of weapons grade uranium needed for a nuclear weapon if enriched further. And the stage is apparently set for Iran to achieve that further enrichment very quickly, given that certain facilities have set up advanced enrichment centrifuges in sequence, in clear violation of the 2015 agreement.” 

Since February, IAEA nuclear inspectors have not been given access to the data from Iranian facilities or surveillance footage from those sites and since June, cameras have been permanently deactivated at a plant believed to be located in Fordo, which is built into a mountain and heavily fortified. 

The NCRI said, “Now that there is no longer any question about Iran’s commitment to a hardline strategy at the nuclear talks, it is time for Western participants to respond in kind by activating the snapback mechanism and the return of global sanctions and six UN Security Council resolutions.”