Few expect anything grand to come out of that meeting—including the parties themselves. That’s why they are preparing themselves for the inevitable blame game instead.
Obviously, the vast majority of the blame will be spared for “the other side.” Immediately after the last meeting in Moscow, Iranian officials complained about “Western dishonesty.” Even former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered more moderate on the nuclear issue, had harsh words for the P5+1. “The talks showed that Western sides are not interested in interaction, are not honest, and have based their policy only on bullying in order to find an opportunity to achieve their objectives in the future,” he said.
And European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton put the onus on the Iranians, arguing that Iran had yet to decide whether it wanted diplomacy to work.
But now finger-pointing within the P5+1 is also beginning to emerge.
Al-Monitor correspondent Laura Rozen reports that some P5+1 members have concluded that the “United States hardened its position in Moscow” and walked back from offers it had made in Istanbul and Baghdad. Russian lead negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov complained to former AFP reporter Michael Adler that the US and the EU should accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium. "What in the world precludes the US, France, and others to recognize this very simple fact?" he asked.
The frustration seems to lie in the fact that the imperative of keeping a united front vis-à-vis Iran meant that the P5+1 had to adopt a negotiation position based on their lowest common denominator. That is, the rest of the P5 had to adjust to what was politically acceptable to the Obama administration. And with elections around the corner, Obama’s political margins are narrow.
Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and the 2010 Recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.