US President Joe Biden
Washington: The administration of US President Joe Biden on Thursday proposed talks with Iran led by European allies and canceled two largely symbolic measures against Tehran imposed by Donald Trump, as it sought to salvage a nuclear deal on the brink of collapse.
Three days before Iran’s deadline to restrict access to UN nuclear inspectors without ending Trump’s sanctions, new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken jointly warned with European powers that the move would be “dangerous”.
Hours after Blinken’s videoconference with his French, British and German counterparts, European Union political director Enrique Mora proposed via Twitter an “informal meeting” involving Iran – and the United States agreed.
“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 an upcoming diplomatic channel on Iran’s nuclear program,” the door said. -speaking of State Department Ned Price.
The P5 – the Security Council powers Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – plus Germany sealed the 2015 deal brokered by then President Barack Obama under which Iran drastically reduced its nuclear program in exchange for promises of economic relief.
Former President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions, aimed at bringing Iran to its knees.
It remains to be seen whether Iran will be willing to sit down with the United States as well. He demanded an end to Trump’s sanctions before rescinding the protest measures he prevented from fully complying.
A senior US official said the Biden administration was showing good faith and viewed a meeting as the start of a “long road” to restoring and building the nuclear deal.
If Iran refuses to meet, “I think it would be both unfortunate and at odds with their stated view that they want to come back if you come back.
“It won’t happen just by one side telling the other what to do,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
– Reverse Trump’s Stages – Biden insisted he won’t lift Trump’s sanctions until Iran returns to compliance – but the administration on Thursday rolled back two symbolic stages of the last administration.
In a letter to the United Nations, the United States said it no longer believed the world body had “reinstated” sanctions against Iran.
Last year Blinken’s predecessor, Mike Pompeo, argued that the United States was still a “participant” in the Security Council resolution that blessed the nuclear deal – despite its later withdrawal – and could therefore reimpose sanctions.
The argument was rejected by the United Nations and its close American allies at the time.
“When we are 14 to 1, it is very difficult for us to work effectively in the Security Council,” said another US official, explaining the overthrow of Biden.
“It brings us back to a position where we can work within this framework and work with our closest allies, especially to address our concerns with Iran.”
The Biden administration also rolled back draconian restrictions on Iranian diplomats in New York who were excluded from all blocs except a few blocs around the United Nations and its mission.
Iranian diplomats will now be treated like those in other countries with bad relations with the United States, such as North Korea, with the obligation to seek permission if they travel beyond a radius of 40 miles from Midtown Manhattan.
– Warning on inspections – Under a bill passed in December by parliament, Iran will limit certain inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency if the United States does not lift its sanctions imposed since 2018 by Sunday.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is due to travel to Tehran on Saturday to hold talks with the Iranian authorities to find a solution.
A joint statement by the four foreign ministers at the end of the virtual meeting convened by France urged “Iran to consider the consequences of such serious action, in particular in this period of diplomatic renewal”.
The powers have also expressed concerns over recent actions by Iran to produce both 20% enriched uranium and uranium metal.
“These activities have no credible civil justification,” the statement said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier that Iran’s recent measures endanger the prospect of the United States returning to the deal, warning that Tehran is “playing with fire”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was unimpressed by the joint statement, tweeting: “Instead of fallacies and imposing responsibility on Iran, the E3 / EU must live up to its own commitments and demand an end to Trump’s legacy of economic terrorism against Iran. “
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations for four decades, but they have entered into frequent contacts to negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal.
The nuclear deal was staunchly opposed by regional rivals Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which have had close partnerships with Trump.
While Iranian policy is ultimately determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian presidential elections in June add another factor of time pressure.
Rouhani – a staunch advocate of nuclear diplomacy with world powers – is set to step down after serving no more than two consecutive terms, and a more radical figure is likely to replace him.
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