Biden repudiates Trump on Iran, ready for nuclear deal talks –

Biden repudiates Trump on Iran, ready for nuclear deal talks

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration says it is ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, in a strong condemnation of former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign.” who sought to isolate the Islamic Republic. .

The administration also took two steps at the United Nations with the goal of restoring the policy to what it was before Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.. The combined actions were immediately criticized by hawks in Iran and raised concerns from Israel, which said it was committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In addition to signaling on Thursday its willingness to speak to Iran, the administration also reversed Trump’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran it had been restored. And it eased strict restrictions on domestic travel for Iranian diplomats destined for the United Nations.

The State Department announced the measures following discussions between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British, French and German counterparts and as Biden prepares to participate, albeit virtually, in his first major international events with world leaders.

The announcement came a day before Biden spoke to the leaders of the industrialized democracies of the Group of Seven and, later, to the annual security conference in Munich. On both Fridays, Biden is expected to discuss his commitment to multilateral diplomacy and his desire to repair the damage that Trump’s positions may have caused in the previous four years. It is expected to address the U.S. stance on the 2015 Iran multilateral nuclear deal, the war in Afghanistan, and the economic and national security challenges posed by Russia and China.

In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would accept an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting of participants, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany, along with Iran, in the original nuclear deal.

“The United States would accept an invitation from the High Representative of the European Union to attend a meeting of the P5 + 1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way to advance Iran’s nuclear program,” he said. The United States has not participated in a meeting of those participants since Trump withdrew from the agreement and began steadily increasing sanctions against Iran.

Such an invitation has yet to be issued, but is expected to follow shortly, following Blinken’s talks with the British, French and German foreign ministers.

In Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that the Biden administration’s action meant that the United States had recognized moves made under Trump “were not legally valid.”

“We agree,” he added, urging the Biden administration to lift the US sanctions “imposed, reimposed or re-labeled by Trump.” Then we will immediately reverse all corrective measures. “

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office expressed concern, saying it believes that “going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path towards a nuclear arsenal.” He said in a statement Friday that he remains “committed to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons” and was in close contact with the United States on the matter.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the Biden administration notified the Security Council that it had withdrawn Trump’s September 2020 invocation of the so-called snapback mechanism under which it maintained that all UN sanctions against Iran had been reimposed. Those sanctions included a conventional arms embargo against Iran that was set to expire.

Trump’s determination had been vigorously disputed by almost every other member of the UN and had left the United States isolated in the world body. Therefore, the reversal is unlikely to have an immediate practical effect other than to realign the United States with the position of the vast majority of UN members, including some of its closest allies.

Acting US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills sent a letter to the Security Council saying that the United States “hereby withdraws” three letters from the Trump administration culminating in its announcement on September 19 that the United States had reimposed UN sanctions on Tehran. for its “significant breach” of its obligations.

Trump’s move had been ignored by the rest of the Security Council and the world, and the overwhelming majority of council members from 15 nations called the action illegal because the United States was no longer a member of the nuclear deal.

At the same time, officials said the administration has relaxed extremely strict limits on travel by Iranian diplomats accredited to the United Nations. The Trump administration had imposed the severe restrictions, essentially confining them to their UN mission and the UN headquarters building in New York.

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, was quick to denounce the steps. “It is concerning that the Biden Administration is already making concessions in an apparent attempt to re-enter the flawed Iran deal,” he said. “The Trump Administration created influence for President Biden in Iran; we must not waste that progress.”

The previous Thursday, Blinken and his European counterparts had urged Iran to allow the continuation of United Nations nuclear inspections and halt nuclear activities that have no credible civilian use. They warned that Iran’s actions could threaten delicate efforts to get the United States back to the 2015 accord and end sanctions that damage Iran’s economy.

Iran is “playing with fire,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who participated in Thursday’s talks in Paris with his British and French counterparts. Blinken had joined by video conference.

Iran has said it will halt part of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of its nuclear facilities next week if the West does not implement its own commitments under the 2015 accord. The accord has been unraveling since Trump removed the United States from the agreement.

Blinken reiterated that “if Iran strictly complies with its commitments again … the United States will do the same,” according to a joint statement after Thursday’s meeting that reflected closer transatlantic positions on Iran since President Joe Biden took office. .

The diplomats noted “the dangerous nature of a decision to limit access to the IAEA and urged Iran to consider the consequences of such a serious action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity.”

They said that Iran’s decision to produce up to 20% enriched uranium and metallic uranium has no “credible” civilian use.

The 2015 agreement aims to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Tehran denies that it is seeking such an arsenal.

“We are the ones who have kept this agreement alive in recent years, and now it is about supporting the United States to get back on the path towards the agreement,” Maas told reporters in Paris.

“The measures that have been taken in Tehran and that can be taken in the coming days are anything but useful. They jeopardize the Americans’ way back to this deal. The more pressure is exerted, the more difficult politically it will be to find a solution, “he said.

The threats from Iran are “very worrying,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, emphasizing the need to “re-engage diplomatically in order to restrain Iran, but also make it comply again.”

Diplomats also expressed concern about human rights violations in Iran and its ballistic missile program.

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani expressed hope Thursday that the Biden administration will rejoin the deal and lift the US sanctions that Washington reimposed under Trump, according to state television.

Tehran has been using its violations of the nuclear deal to pressure the remaining signatories – France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China – to provide more incentives for Iran to offset crippling sanctions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the European Council spoke with Rouhani this week to try to end the diplomatic standoff. The IAEA chief is scheduled to travel to Iran this weekend to find a solution that will allow the agency to continue with the inspections.


Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Geir Moulson in Berlin, and Angela Charlton and Masha Macpherson in Paris contributed.


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