When American and Iranian officials resume talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 international nuclear deal, the people driving the diplomacy are a familiar cast of characters, including some of the key figures who negotiated the original accord working to put it back together again.
But if the participants in Tuesday’s discussions are familiar, the context for the talks has changed sharply, as have some of the two sides’ objectives. And while the steps needed for Washington and Tehran to return to their commitments are relatively clear, the diplomatic choreography to get there is complicated.
Negotiating the original deal was a hugely technical effort aimed at inventing from scratch a set of nuclear restraints on Iran. These talks will be more a test of political will.
President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and the nearly three years of sanctions that followed, crushing Iran’s economy, have deepened Tehran’s wariness of American promises. The U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani last year heightened that mistrust.
After the Americans pulled out, Iran stopped adhering to limits the deal placed on its nuclear activities, taking steps that have brought it closer to being able to produce an atomic weapon. Some Iranian officials question whether a future U.S. administration won’t abandon the pact again.