NEWS U.S. says Iran caught in ‘vicious circle’ over protests, arming Russia Iran

The US envoy said Iran’s leadership had locked itself in a “vicious circle” that cut itself off from its own people and the international community, adding that Washington was more concerned with Tehran’s decision to arm Russia in Ukraine and crack down on its internal protests than concerns about Negotiations on the nuclear deal resume.

“The more Iran cracks down, the more sanctions; the more sanctions, the more isolated Iran feels,” Rob Marley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, told a conference in Rome.

“The more isolated they feel, the more they turn to Russia; the more they turn to Russia, the more sanctions, the worse the climate, the less likely nuclear diplomacy is. So it’s really a vicious cycle right now that’s all self-reinforcing.

“The suppression of the protests and Iran’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is what we’re focusing on because that’s where things are happening and where we want to make a difference,” Malley added.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes said over the weekend that there is worrying evidence that Russia is seeking to deepen military cooperation with Iran. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri was in Moscow over the weekend.

Iran has paid a huge price for being the only country to arm Russia in its war against Ukraine, a senior European diplomat said. “This is an unholy alliance and a colossal miscalculation by Iran,” the diplomat said.

The Iranian regime says protests have dwindled over the past week as the crackdown has intensified, but has called on protesters to take to the streets on Dec. 14.

Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said on Saturday that the government was reviewing laws on mandatory wearing of the hijab, one of the issues that have sparked more than 10 weeks of protests. Montazeri also said the “morality police” responsible for enforcing the dress code had been “shut down,” but he gave no details.

Malley said the next show of U.S. solidarity with the protesters could come on a Dec. 14 vote to remove Iran from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

The move came after the UN Human Rights Council voted on a motion by Germany and Iceland to create a fact-finding commission to investigate the protests, which Iran has said it will boycott. In a letter to the United Nations, Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi urged the organization to examine the sexual harassment of women in custody.

Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi set up an internal fact-finding committee, but he said Sunday that political party and student representatives would not be involved.

Some senior European diplomats believe an irreversible turning point has been reached from which Iran’s leadership will not recover. The diplomat said: “It’s really simple. The Islamic Republic — the regime — has finally lost touch with their people after 43 years, and that’s what this is really about. Nothing happens in the middle of the year the same.

“They’re having a conversation with themselves, but the reform proposals are seen by key members of the public as largely irrelevant.”

The diplomat also found tension within the regime over how to respond to the protests, saying: “There is a lot of internal dissonance in different parts of a given security establishment in terms of shifting responsibility for handling the protests.”

Diplomats believe the regime’s apparent loss of domestic support is fueling debate within Iran about whether to reduce isolation by strengthening its alliance with Russia or try to revive the nuclear deal.

Malley’s comments suggest that the United States believes Iran has made a series of decisive decisions to fully reinstate the nuclear deal, in which the West lifted some economic sanctions in exchange for control of Iran’s nuclear program, although he said that is politically at the moment It is unlikely that the diplomatic door will not close if the Iranian leadership changes course.

In August, when the agreement’s resumption was about to be finalized, Iran added a new demand outside the agreement, in the U.S. view, for the U.N. nuclear inspectorate to drop investigations into Iran’s past nuclear activities at three sites. The United Nations inspection agency said Iran’s explanation for the presence of nuclear particles was not credible. Iran says the investigation into its past activities was inspired by Israel.

With UN inspectors having only minimal access to Iran’s nuclear program and Iran increasingly using more advanced centrifuges, Western nuclear negotiators concede it may be weeks before Iran can produce enough enrichment Uranium to make nuclear bombs. But Haynes said the U.S. has no intelligence that Iran is trying to weaponize its uranium stockpile.

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