According to Reuters, talks between Iran and the P5+1 have hit a snag.
The reason is believed to be the Iranian regime’s unhappiness with the US adding new companies and individuals to its list of sanction evaders.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi sees these additions as “new sanctions”. According to his statement published on Fars news (and reprinted in Reuters):
“We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals. It is against the spirit of the Geneva deal.”
Fact: these are not “new sanctions” as Mr Araqchi states. These companies and individuals were punished as part of existing sanctions. And the US is not breaking the Geneva agreement by continuing with the existing sanctions.
Its very possible that the Iranian side is doing this because the Rouhani administration is coming under increasing pressure at home from those in the Conservative camp who oppose the Geneva deal. With this latest maneuver, the Rouhani administration could be trying to earn some street cred among the hardliners, who are becoming increasingly vociferous.
John Kerry has reason to be thankful. This latest move by Tehran will hurt those in Washington and Jerusalem who accuse the Obama administration of being “desperate”, “naive” and “falling over itself to sign a deal with the Iranians no matter what”.
The reaction by the Iranian team can be used as clear evidence that the US is serious about maintaining existing sanctions, regardless of whether Iran’s leaders like it or not.