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Arab states, Israel vying for 'seat at the table' in future Biden talks with Iran

The incoming Biden administration could return to the 2015 JCPOA [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 December, 2020

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Gulf Arab states and Israel have reportedly floated the idea of being present in future negotiations between the US and Iran.
States opposed to a renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal are vying for influence in the incoming Biden administration's future talks with Tehran, accord to a Politico report on Tuesday.

Gulf Arab states and Israel have reportedly floated the idea of being present in the future negotiations, both in private and in public.

The United Arab Emirates' ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, contended in an interview with Politico that the US need not choose between the interests of its European and Middle Eastern allies.

Rather, al-Otaiba argued, Washington should "maintain strong relations with all its partners in Europe and the Middle East and show up with both groups at the negotiating table.”

Otaiba's words were reportedly echoed by ambassadors of other states opposed to a renewed nuclear deal. Bringing them on board, they argue, would stregthen the US negotiating position.

In interviews, Dermer has also indicated that Israel hopes for the US to redraw a deal with Iran, rather than returning to the old one. This sentiment has been echoed by Saudi and Emirati officials, who feel that the 2015 accord conceded too much to Tehran.

Israel and the Gulf states' hopes of drawing up a fresh accord, however, are not shared by all in Washington.

“Renegotiating everything is just unrealistic to anybody who actually talks to an Iranian,” one former US official familiar with the matter told Politico.

“The idea that we have leverage to just start over is nice in theory, but in practice there’s no way the Iranians will go for it. If Biden comes in and that’s the stand, the Iranians will be convinced that there’s no serious engaging with the US.”

Both the incoming Biden administration and the Iranian leadership have expressed their desire to restart the deal, with a reduction in nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, which continue to have a negative effect on the ailing Iranian economy. 

Since the JCPOA's collapse, however, Iran has exceeded the limits for the purity of enriched uranium set out in the deal, but has still remained below the level of the uranium stockpile it held prior to the original deal in 2015. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that should his country and the US restart the deal, then all steps taken since its collapse are reversible, on the condition that the US lifts sanctions. 

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