Mutual trust remains a massive work to be done in the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany.
Although there were quite a few feel-good announcements in April, tensions between Tehran and Washington over the latter’s “endless demands” have intensified in recent days. This is while a number of alternative voices continue to advocate a rethinking of the Iran-US relationship.
From the policy of what was once focused on “containment” and ultimately “regime change” in Iran, there are now suggestions that ask Washington to “accommodate” the emerging regional power by responding to its demand to be treated as an equal partner on the regional stage, in particular when it comes to re-establishing peace and security.
Iran’s decision to negotiate and collaborate fully with the P5+1 is to be understood within this context. It is the same rationale that says it is the US and not Iran that has to abandon its microphone diplomacy and uphold the promising outcome of the Lausanne Agreement plus the basic norms governing international relations and treaties.
Significant outcomes emerged from the interim deal notably on sanctions relief and restrictions, initiatives to protect the Iranian nuclear program, collaboration in Research and Development, and greater cooperation with the IAEA, among others. Both sides agreed to share the new policy to move forward.
As acknowledged by Washington, Iran did all that and more. But the Americans decided to retrace their steps. Under pressure from Arab allies, Israel lobby and Congress, a nervous Obama administration, which proposed the current diplomacy in the first place, reneged on its undertakings the moment the April 2 Lausanne Agreement was announced. Desperate enough, the Americans released their own factsheet, raising more demands and bringing up more excuses to avoid implementing any part of the interim deal.
Such stonewalling moves created a dent in diplomacy, a worrying trend given the increasing differences between the two countries. This is while some believe that both Tehran and Washington share stakes in the fight against the terrorist group of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, where mutual trust could help improve the situation.
This group of analysts and pundits argues that with such convergence of the two countries’ interests, neither of them can afford the cost of non-cooperation or failure in international diplomacy.
On regional security, Tehran and Washington continue to reaffirm their firm determination to safeguard interests, as well as continued commitment to seeking peaceful solutions to the current crises through dialogue and negotiation with those directly concerned in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, they say.
But a second group of world analysts and politicians believe that the rise of terrorist groups in the region is the product of a US plot to divide and rule and to undermine the power of a rising regional power, called Iran.
They believe that the US and its regional allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia are hitting severe blows at Iran's allies and posing new threats to the country's security to wear off Tehran's power and regional clout.
And that's why the US has been stonewalling a deal with Iran through raising excessive demands in the nuclear talks and reneging on the terms and undertakings that it has accepted under the April agreement in Lausanne, they argue.
On the ground, Washington continues to up the ante, with its claim to be rightfully concerned of everything that happens in the Middle East as a dominant power. Iran reiterates that America is dead wrong, as a lot of what happens in the region is because of the US presence, which is also outside the purview of the US, especially concerning Iran and its allies.
So at the core, the rift between America's uneasiness to accommodate and share space with an emerging regional power and Iran’s resolve to have its own way in how it conducts itself remains.
Which of these two divergent points of view could be relevant will become clearer at the end of the ongoing talks in Vienna in the coming days, when most of the historic and ground breaking announcements are expected. The ghosts of Lausanne are warning us, where the past feels dangerously present.