Asparagus Palace ‘Hide’ Iran Nuclear Negotiations Tensions

The quiet outside the luxury Palais Coburg hotel in Vienna on Thursday (17/2) hides some difficult diplomatic talks about Iran’s nuclear program that it is trying to finalize inside.

Apart from several television cameras watching the envoys arriving in black sedans, there is no hint as to whether the negotiations that would have brought the 2015 deal to life will result in a breakthrough or fiasco in the coming days.

The building, erected by Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1845 in an old city fort, has since been dubbed the “Asparagus Palace” by locals in the Austrian capital for its slender columns.

The Palais Coburg luxury hotel building in Vienna, Austria (photo: doc).

The Palais Coburg luxury hotel building in Vienna, Austria (photo: doc).

Behind the main building, meetings often lasted well into the evening, including on weekends.

The Iranian delegation’s refusal to sit at the same table with the United States resulted in Enrique Mora of the European Union, who coordinated the talks, constantly switching back and forth between the two.

Also present at Coburg – where the deal was originally reached – were other parties involved in the deal including Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The 2015 deal loosened some sanctions on Iran and in return tightened restrictions imposed on Tehran’s nuclear program.

However, the deal collapsed after former US president Donald Trump withdrew America in 2018 and reimposed a number of sanctions.

His successor Joe Biden, who took office in 2021, later said the desire to revive the deal and negotiations began in April. [mg/jm]