Iran Diplomat Condemns West's 'Psychological Warfare' in Nuclear Deadlock

An Iranian official has fired more barbs at the Western signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, ahead of the resumption of talks to revive the accord in Vienna next week.

Iran's ambassador to the U.K., Mohsen Baharvand, is the latest Iranian diplomat to criticize the conduct of the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K. in the ongoing negotiations, which after seven rounds of talks have failed to break the deadlock.

Both European and American representatives are warning that the window to make a deal is closing. In the absence of a diplomatic solution, some reports have suggested that the U.S.—with Israeli backing—will consider military action to slow Iran's nuclear program.

"When we do not negotiate with them, they use all their tools and hypocritically pretend to be in favor of dialogue and engagement," Baharvand wrote on his Instagram account, as reported by Iran's Mehr News Agency.

"However when Iran agrees to sit at the table, the Western side makes excessive demands contrary to their previous statements. They do not give the other side any rights and adopt an aggressive stance so that any negotiator with any political background regrets the constructive and positive attitude.

"I must admit that they have good skills in the hypocritical game. I think the way to deal with this insidious behavior is to first resist this psychological warfare. This way even if there is a loss in the short term, it can lead to the solidarity of the people and their support for the government and the establishment in the long term."

Iran and its European and American partners have blamed one another for the failure of the recent rounds of talks, both sides suggesting the other is making unrealistic demands designed to be rejected.

All those participating—including Russia and China—have expressed public support for JCPOA revival. The deal was thrown into turmoil in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord, vowing to force Tehran to accept a new and more restrictive replacement.

Despite years of U.S. "maximum pressure" via sanctions and diplomatic pressure, Iran refused to return to the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, Iran began moving away from the accord piecemeal, expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities, growing its enriched uranium stockpile, and increasing the quality of its enriched uranium to near-weapons grade level.

Iran announced it would no longer abide by any JCPOA measures after the U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani—the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' covert Quds Force and one of the country's most powerful men—in January 2020.

Iran has since moved far beyond the limits set by the JCPOA, and its breakout time—how long it would take Tehran to build a nuclear weapon—could soon be only a matter of weeks, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

European and American negotiating teams are losing patience. U.S. Special Envoy Rob Malley earlier this month told CNN: "It seems very clear [Iran] is trying to build leverage by expanding their nuclear program and hoping to use that leverage to get a better deal."

Germany, France and the U.K.—known as the E3 in JCPOA talks—blamed Iran for the delays. "We are losing precious time dealing with new Iranian positions inconsistent with the JCPOA or that go beyond it," E3 diplomats said after the last round of talks ended.

"Without swift progress, in light of Iran's fast-forwarding of its nuclear program, the JCPOA will very soon become an empty shell," they said.

Iran's chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, fired back on Twitter, suggesting the E3 were engaging in "their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy." Diplomacy, he said, "is a two-way street."

Tensions are high as representatives prepare for the next round of Vienna talks on Monday.

From Iran, Abolfazl Amouei—the spokesperson for the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee—said on Friday that Western negotiators should "stop stubbornness and accept Iran's proposals for removal of sanctions."

"Clock not ticking in your favor!" Amouei said on Twitter.

Iran flag by IAEA HQ in Vienna
The Iranian flag is pictured in front of International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters on May 24, 2021 in Vienna, Austria. Vienna will soon host the eighth round of talks aiming to revive the JCPOA. Michael Gruber/Getty Images