Planned January talks between the P5+1 and Iran are not going to happen, primarily because January is almost over and they haven’t agreed on either a date or location. Whose fault this is, however, is a matter of serious dispute.
EU officials are accusing Iran of “dragging their feet,” saying they have not been able to present their offer for January talks successfully so far. Iranian officials, on the other hand, say they are more than willing for such a talk, and that the EU simply isn’t ready for the meeting yet.
At the core of the dispute are the very different ways in which the two groups behave diplomatically, with Iran often raising its proposed venues in public statements to the international press, comments which the US and European Union often treats as if they never happened, insisting on secret proposals delivered through formal channels.
Iran and the P5+1 have regularly met over the past several years, but only came close to an agreement once, in which Iran formally accepted a US offer of a nuclear exchange for fuel rods, which the US then withdrew and condemned Iran for accepting.
Western officials have speculated Iran is more eager to make a deal now because of the damage international sanctions have done to their economy. At the same time, each round of talks comes with new US demands for Iran to meet, so there is always a race between Iran’s willingness to make a deal and the US determination to make the terms even more onerous.