Iran's chief nuclear negotiator meets with senior Emirati officials in Abu Dhabi

The meeting between the UAE president's diplomatic adviser and Iranian commissioner Ali Bagheri Kani is aimed at easing tensions between the two countries just days before the resumption of talks in Vienna
Reactor nuclear Irán

PHOTO/WANA  -   Vista del reactor nuclear de agua en Arak, Irán

Anwar Mohammed Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, announced early last week the UAE authorities' intention to improve relations with Tehran. The official said that the Arab power remains concerned about Iran's actions in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, but that it was nevertheless "taking steps to reduce tensions with Iran as part of a political commitment to diplomacy and a move away from confrontation". 

In this line of rapprochement, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, met today with two senior Emirati representatives in Abu Dhabi; Anwar Gargash and Khalifa Shaheen Almarar, minister of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Anwar Gargash
PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -  Diplomatic adviser to the President of the United Arab Emirates Anwar Gargash

During the meeting, some of the current regional and international developments were discussed, as well as the intention to work together for greater prosperity and stability in the region. The two countries stressed that strengthening relations should be established "on the basis of good neighbourliness and mutual respect", and encouraged the development of bilateral economic and trade ties, according to WAM, the Emirati news agency. 

The status of the JCPOA pact 

The meeting comes just days before the expected resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna on 29 November, which have been postponed since the Iranian elections five months ago. Thus, as agreed last October, representatives of five of the six signatory countries, together with the European Union, will meet in the Austrian capital with delegates from the Iranian government to examine the provisions of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The summit will not be attended by a US representative, which, after unilaterally abandoning the agreement under former president Donald Trump, has not yet taken any effective steps to rejoin the pact.

Bennett
AFP/GIL COHEN -  Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

However, the UAE's diplomatic move seems to be a response to the insecurity with which the Gulf countries are perceiving the Biden administration's work in the region and the US's stance on the nuclear deal. Thus, fearing an escalation of tensions such as the one that occurred in 2019 - which is not yet entirely over - Abu Dhabi, along with other territories in the region, has begun to foster relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  

For their part, other powers remain sceptical and distrustful of the possibility of reactivating the agreement, as is the case, for example, with Israel. Naftali Bennett, the country's prime minister - and the spokesman for the opinion of many Israeli policy-makers - has once again expressed his opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Bennett argues that Iran's uranium enrichment, as well as the eventual development of nuclear weapons, will not stop even if the agreement comes back into force.   

A similar example is Saudi Arabia, which, with a largely Sunni population, is engaged in some conflicts with an eminently Shiite Iranian Islamic Republic. However, in line with the search for regional stability, Saudi Arabia did begin talks with Iran last April, which, although still preliminary, the country has described as "cordial".