The world’s eyes are, naturally, all on Ukraine. But elsewhere in Europe, diplomats are locked in a series of talks to prevent an altogether different war in another region. In a hotel in Vienna, negotiators from Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China have been meeting their Iranian counterparts. In an adjacent hotel, negotiators from the United States are waiting to see Iran’s latest proposals. This is the eighth — and perhaps the last — round of talks which have gone on intermittently for the past ten months over the potential return of the US to the Iranian nuclear agreement, which Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from in 2018.
The expectation last week was that a deal was about to be reached: Joe Biden had already made it clear he was determined to salvage his old boss, Barack Obama’s main foreign policy legacy — engagement with Iran.