With tensions rising in the Persian Gulf, talks have been under way in Vienna to try to save the Iran nuclear deal.
Senior diplomats from the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China met in the Austrian capital to try to make some progress. A senior Iranian official said the atmosphere had been “constructive”, which is a positive contrast to the tensions which have developed since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 accord last year and reimposed sanctions.
At the same time as the diplomatic fallout about the agreement, tensions have increased, with both Iran and the UK seizing a tanker each. Meanwhile Iran has increased the production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make nuclear reactor fuel or also a nuclear bomb.
At times like this we owe a lot to international diplomats who do the hard work, mostly behind the scenes.
It’s also worth reflecting on the role that Vienna plays in these talks. The Austrian capital hosted the key discussions which led to the original Iran deal: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Since the Second World War, the Alpine Republic has developed a reputation as a home for international diplomacy, including the famous Kennedy-Khruschev talks.
Vienna is the third global headquarters for the United Nations and scores of other international organisations are based there including: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the oil cartel OPEC.
Smaller countries like Austria can make a large contribution on the international stage. Hopefully Scotland will soon too.