U.S. Ready To Talk With Iran On Nuclear Deal

Yolanda Curtis
February 19, 2021

According to a summary of the conversation provided by Michel's office, he expressed concern over Iran's "departure" from its commitments under the nuclear deal but also stressed "the European Union will continue to deploy efforts to facilitate the full implementation of the JCPOA and the return of the United States of America to the agreement" - an acknowledgment that it was Trump who unilaterally abandoned the accord in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran.

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with major European allies - France, Germany and the United Kingdom - and reaffirmed President Biden's position that should Iran come back into compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would do the same "and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end". "We did not think that in America a insane person would be elected and start a historically incomparable war against the nation", said Rouhani, referring to the crippling economic sanctions as an "economic war". Numerous other sanctions remain in place, however. This would mean the immediate halt of the inspection of Iranian activities.

The Biden administration does not yet know if Iran would agree to meet, State Department officials said. Iran had demanded there be no conditions. "If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, it will be nothing but a nightmare", he added.

Biden has said that once all parties were back in compliance with the deal, he would use it to build a "stronger, deeper" accord that covers other issues.

Biden faces a tough task in Congress to build support for the Iran deal, which was never popular with Republicans and some Democrats.

As Iran increased its enrichment of uranium, the Trump administration increased sanctions.

European powers and the United States have warned Iran it would be "dangerous" to carry out a threatened limit to UN nuclear agency inspections, warning such a move risked wrecking an opportunity to revive a landmark 2015 deal on its atomic drive.

US officials have said that while they are open to discussing the JCPOA with foreign partners, they are aware that Iran is in breach of the deal.

In a sign the Europeans are keen not to alienate Tehran even as they embrace the new Biden administration in Washington, European Council President Charles Michel on Thursday spoke by phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

"Iran's nuclear programme is growing by the day, as the time it would take to enrich enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon shrinks", said Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group (ICG). That has "no credible" civilian use, the diplomats said.

Analysts say only a small window of opportunity remains to save the deal as Tehran ramps up its nuclear work in retaliation against the reimposition of sanctions that followed the USA walkout. Tehran denies it is seeking such an arsenal.

A Western diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the United States administration was racing against time with the approaching February 21 deadline set by Iranian legislation, which allows Tehran to stop its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Washington, in turn, has called on Iran to return to compliance with its commitments under the agreement, which it backed away from in response to Trump's move.

Other reports by iNewsToday