There are signs that all parties to the Vienna talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will agree on a framework in the form of either an interim agreement — similar to the Joint Plan of Action that was signed in Geneva in 2013 — or an addendum to the JCPOA. The addendum would outline various deviations from the original text, such as adjustments to Iranian nuclear activities and verification of sanctions relief.
The current Vienna talks involve a number of committees that are focused on technical negotiations to deal with both the Iranian nuclear programme and verification of sanctions relief.
While everyone is focused on Ali Bagheri Kani who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, the country’s negotiating team includes other important figures whose experience and expertise support the process.
Ebrahim Sheibani is a former governor of the Central Bank of Iran (2003–2007) as well as chair of the Money and Credit Council. He is also a former ambassador to Austria, Slovenia, and Slovakia (2008–2014). In June 2014, he was appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to serve as a member of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, where he headed the economic committee. He has also lectured on economics at the University of Tehran.
As a US-educated economist and former CBI governor, he is one of the more experienced members of the delegation. His background in finance helps him to understand the impact of sanctions on the Iranian banking sector. Furthermore, his appointment by the Supreme Leader shows that he is trusted by the top leadership.
Mehdi Safari is currently deputy foreign minister for economic affairs. He has been a senior diplomat, holding ambassadorships in Britain, China, Austria, and Russia. During former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad years, Safari served as deputy foreign minister in charge of Asia, Oceania, and the Commonwealth and was later in charge of European affairs. His international experience is an asset to the current negotiating team.
Reza Najafi is former Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the current deputy foreign minister for international and legal affairs. He has held different diplomatic and Foreign Ministry posts in his career. His focus is the relationship between Iran and the IAEA.
Hamid-Reza Asgari has a background in the Ministry of Intelligence and is a former head of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) nuclear committee. He is closely affiliated with the hard-line politician Saeed Jalili and was a member of Jalili’s negotiating team when the latter was the chief nuclear negotiator between 2008 and 2013.
Inside the negotiating team Asgari represents the hard-line faction, which is very distrustful of the intensions of Western governments.
Ali Fekri is deputy minister of finance and head of the Foreign Investment Organisation in Iran. He has served mainly as a senior diplomat in a number of countries. More significantly, as a former professor at Imam Sadeq University he has close links with the hard-line elements of the Iranian power structure.This excerpt is taken from Iran Strategic Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Iran. Click here to receive a free sample copy.
The January 2022 issue of Iran Strategic Focus also includes the following:
- Does Iran want the bomb – and is it developing one?
Politics & Society
- Eastward orientation strengthens
- Amir-Abdollahian’s regional tour
- Talking with the Taliban
- Dual nationals on hold
- Satellite carrier test
- Attacks on assassination anniversary
- Iran–Iraq relations
- The future of agriculture
- Iran’s Vienna negotiating team
Economy & Energy
- Inflation, currency, trade
- Higher cash subsidies?
- New transit hubs
- Raisi on banking reforms