When Iran stopped talking to the west – in 10 moments

Every minute spent thinking of things to block a deal has raised the likelihood of a deal not being struck, says Mohammad Javad Zarif

The collapse of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group means Iran may now reintroduce its programme to acquire nuclear fuel, withdrawing the 40-page agreement signed with the Obama administration.

Iran’s nuclear plans

Iran’s nuclear programme began in the late 1970s. It was conceived to develop a civilian nuclear energy programme. During negotiations on the first offer of talks in 2005, then minister of intelligence Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei said: “Instead of having energy provided to citizens through nuclear power, every minute spent thinking of things to block a deal raises the likelihood of a deal not being struck.”

Economic restrictions

When the negotiations started, Iran was under strict economic sanctions imposed by western countries over its nuclear programme. In 2011, an EU-wide ban on exports of insurance of oil-based businesses was lifted, and sanctions were eased gradually during 2012. In April, the UN security council lifted its own sanctions against Iran.

Obama’s exit

The White House took office in 2009 with a promise to normalise relations with Iran and to end US sanctions. But a year later, Barack Obama announced he would withdraw from the negotiating process and, instead, cut a nuclear deal with Iran. “When we keep all our cards on the table, we get closer,” he said at the time. “But a single card – insisting on something you can’t have – isn’t an effective negotiating strategy.”

In recent years, Obama called Iran the “Iranian great Satan”, claiming he would reduce tensions with the country as part of his efforts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. “My view has been that as we move through this process, that may allow us to work with them on ways that we can advance the peace process,” he said in July last year. “That may lead to a willingness to talk further about strategic issues between the United States and Iran.”

Genetically modified food

The United States and Russia disagree on whether genetically modified food should be allowed for planting in Iran. In 2012, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banned the use of GM food in the country. “Islamic nature is strong, and there is nothing to be accepted except science and Islam,” Khamenei wrote in a statement. “I call on the believers to refrain from using any Western, Jewish, or Jewish-American foods.”

Recent developments

• The largest movement of electricity in the world is due to be sourced from Iran’s 1,600-megawatt nuclear plant, powered by natural gas and situated north of the capital Tehran. The plant is scheduled to begin full operation next year.

• In December last year, US Congress unanimously approved the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2015.

• The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran has implemented measures to address its concerns regarding its past research and development activity related to nuclear weapons. The IAEA added, however, that there is a lack of clarity regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme.

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