But as the meeting breaks a months-long stalemate between the two sides, success should be anything but simple.
The meeting, to be held in Vienna, will bring together senior officials from the six countries that remained in the agreement after the US withdrawal in May 2018, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran. The Europeans will form working groups among the participants and act as intermediaries for the United States and Iran, which do not foresee face-to-face meetings.
No timetable has been announced. In an ideal world for both sides, an agreement will be reached within two months, before Iran holds its presidential election in June. Hard liners are favored to win and could lead a more difficult business.
I think the Biden administration made a miscalculation in delaying this process, Suzanne DiMaggio of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in a briefing to reporters. But Vienna is an opportunity to correct course.
Biden officials disagree that they dragged their feet, noting that the new administration has been consumed by its national agenda and that Iran has turned down its offer of direct talks. Until recently, Tehran and Washington insisted that the others take unilateral steps first to return to respect for the terms of the deal.
The matter came to the fore after the United States offered indirect talks, and last week Iran accepted an offer that the European Union would host the separate room talks.
We do not foresee at this time that there will be direct talks with Iran, although of course we remain open to them. And so, you have to see how things go, starting at the start of the week, Price said.
Publicly, Iran still rejects the kind of simultaneous and sequential steps to compliance that the administration envisions. We only have one step and not one step by step [lifting of sanctions,] and that step includes lifting all sanctions imposed by the United States, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference in Tehran on Monday, according to Irans PressTV.
In return, Iran will be ready to reverse its corrective measures, which were taken due to the violation of the treaty by opposing parties, Khatibzadeh said, repeating a bottom line expressed in recent weeks by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. .
Obviously, if they stuck to that position, they weren’t going anywhere, DiMaggio said. I have a feeling this is an opening offer and the Iranians will have to revert to accepting simultaneous actions, she said.
Corrective measures Iran took a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal nearly three years ago include restarting uranium enrichment at a level above what was authorized by the approval and placing on line of advanced centrifuges prohibited. U.S. officials now estimate that Iran’s escape time – the time needed to assemble enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon that had grown to at least a year under restrictions – has now fallen to months.
US opponents of the deal have argued that the intensification of enrichment has enabled Iran to acquire untold knowledge that no return to its original conditions can eliminate. But the Biden administration must accept increased knowledge. There’s nothing we can do about it, said Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy at the Association for Arms Control.
The crucial question is whether it can be managed … Can the JCPOA’s non-proliferation benefits still be restored, she said of the deal officially known as Plan? global joint action? I would definitely say.
For Iran, returning to compliance with the deal by putting centrifuges on hold and returning enriched uranium may be much simpler than it requires the United States to return to the deal.
The main complications are the more than 1,500 sanctions and designations that Trump imposed on Iran after its withdrawal from the deal, even as he reinstated the nuclear-related measures that had been lifted under the deal. .
Iran demanded a full return to the current situation when the deal was signed in 2015. But the deal only applied to nuclear-related sanctions; the new measures imposed by Trump have been imposed for a range of alleged sins, from attempts to build a nuclear weapon, a goal Iran has consistently denied, to expanding its ballistic missile program, supporting proxy forces waging regional battles and allegedly supporting state terrorism.
As talks approached, U.S. officials have spent weeks trying to dismantle the Trump sanctions network, which supporters of the deal accuse of having been deliberately selected to prevent a new administration from changing its policy. Among them are anti-terrorist sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and the terrorist designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military responsible for proxies and internal repression.
When Donald Trump violated the JCPOA … he resorted to a policy of maximum pressure on Iran … which included sanctioning anything his team could think of, whether nuclear-related or not said Thomas Countryman, chairman of the gun board. Control Association and a career diplomat who served as Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
Officials in the Trump administration and the regime change lobby here in Washington were and still are very clear that the goal was to make it as difficult as possible for a successor administration to remove sanctions, he said.
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