Biden’s attempt to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal got off to a rocky start


WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden Administration’s First Efforts to Resuscitate the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal they are getting a cold early response from Tehran. Although few expected a breakthrough in the first month of the new administration, Iran’s hard line suggests a rocky road ahead.

Having made several important proposals to Iran in his first weeks in office, the Iranians have rejected the administration’s scope. They had already rejected Biden’s initial tactic: a return by the United States to the deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. if Iran resumes full compliance with its obligations under the agreement.

Iran looms as an important test of the Biden administration’s overarching foreign policy approach, which the president has said will be realigned with the kind of multilateral diplomacy Trump rejected. Although there are other hot topics, including Russia, China and North Korea, Iran has particular significance for Biden’s top national security advisers. They include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and special envoy for Iran Rob Malley, all of whom were intimately involved in crafting the 2015 accord under President Barack Obama and may have a vested interest in rescuing him.

Biden took office promising to reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, which gave him billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing his nuclear program. Just last week, Biden complied in at least three ways: he agreed to revert to multinational talks with Iran on reactivating the deal, rescinded Trump’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran should be reinstated, and eased onerous restrictions. Iranian diplomats destined for the United States. Nations.

Yet Iran has stood firm in the face of demands that it will respond to nothing less than the total lifting of the sanctions that Trump reimposed. Over the weekend, Iran followed through on a threat to suspend adherence to a UN agreement that allows intrusive inspections of its declared nuclear sites. Although it did not go so far as to order the removal of the international inspectors, Iran cut cooperation with them and promised to review the passage in three months if the sanctions are not removed.

The Iranians’ tough stance has left the administration on the cusp of a difficult decision: to move forward with sanctions relief before Iran resumes full compliance and risk losing its influence or doubling down on full compliance demands. first and risk Tehran leaving. of the deal completely.

It’s a delicate balance and one that the administration hates to admit it faces, given the politically sensitive nature of Iran in Washington (Republicans strongly oppose the nuclear deal) and in Europe and the Middle East itself, particularly in Israel and the Arab states. of the Gulf that are most directly threatened.

On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed that the United States is prepared to return to the nuclear deal as long as Tehran shows “strict compliance” with it. Speaking to the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Blinken said the United States is committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and pledged to work with allies and partners to “extend and strengthen” the agreement reached between Iran. and Germany, France. Great Britain, Russia, China and the US.

“Diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal.” he said.

However, just 24 hours earlier, Iran on Sunday rejected pleas to suspend cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog. While Iran did not oust the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is in charge of monitoring Iranian compliance with the deal, it did end the agency’s access to video from cameras installed at various sites.

There was no immediate response to that development from the United States, but on Monday the White House and the State Department downplayed the importance of the measure.

“Our view is that diplomacy is the best way forward to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “That does not mean that they clearly have not taken the necessary steps to comply and we have not taken any steps or given any indication that we are going to comply with the demands they are raising either.”

At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price addressed the IAEA mission more directly, praising the agency for its “professionalism” in keeping the inspectors and their apparatus in the country despite the early threat of Iran to expel them on Tuesday. He said the United States supports the success of IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in reaching a temporary agreement with Iran, but regretted that Tehran remains unfulfilled.

Price said the administration was concerned that Iran appeared to be heading in the wrong direction, but would not comment on the administration’s view of whether its scope to date had achieved results. He was also unwilling to say what the administration could do to bring Iran back into compliance with the deal considering its continued threat to drop all the restrictions it imposed.

“The United States is willing to meet with the Iranians to resolve these difficult and complex questions,” Price said, alluding to phrases that administration officials have used to refer to their initial goal of “compliance for compliance” and then “compliance for compliance. compliance”. plus.”

The “further compliance,” according to administration officials, would include limits on Iran’s non-nuclear activities, including missile development and support for Middle Eastern rebel groups and militias. One of the main reasons Trump gave for withdrawing from the nuclear deal was that he did not address those issues and his administration has been trying for more than a year to expand the deal to include them.

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