Administration

Biden administration open to restarting nuclear talks with Iran

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The State Department said on Thursday that the Biden administration is open to restarting discussions with European countries and Iran to begin the process of rejoining the 2015 Iran Nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement to The Hill.

The statement from the State Department signals a next step to reversing a move by the former Trump administration to withdraw from the JCPOA. Former President Trump announced in 2018 that he would pull the U.S. out of the nuclear deal breaking with allies and fulfilling a campaign promise. 

The New York Times was the first to report that the U.S. was open to accepting an invitation from the European Union to join informal talks of the signatories to the JCPOA, the so-called P5+1, about bringing both the U.S. and Iran back into compliance with the nuclear agreement.  

An anonymous official told the Times that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with European foreign ministers where he agreed that the Iran nuclear accord “was a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy.”

A senior State Department Official said in a briefing with reporters Thursday night that the U.S. would be reversing two previous policy decisions imposed by the Trump administration on Iran.

This includes reversing the move to impose snapback sanctions on Tehran initiated by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a move criticized as having little-to-no real world impact since the U.S. had left the JCPOA. 

The senior official said the move isolated the U.S. from its allies and reversing the decision put the U.S. “back in good stead” with U.N. members in particular on the Security Council.  

The Biden administration is also lifting certain travel restrictions for Iranian officials to visit the United Nations headquarters in New York. 

The senior official described the move as “returning to the status quo of the last few years before the last administration.”

 

The latest development in the nuclear talks comes after the U.S. and three of its European allies released a joint statement on Thursday warning Iran against blocking inspections by nuclear experts and violating the terms of the nuclear agreement.

“The E3 and the United States expressed their shared fundamental security interest in upholding the nuclear non-proliferation regime and ensuring that Iran can never develop a nuclear weapon. In this context, the conclusion of the JCPOA was a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy,” the statement read.

The statement also appeared to suggest that the U.S. was open to restarting discussions with Iran stating, “If Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end. ”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appeared to respond to the statement on Twitter.

“Instead of sophistry & putting onus on Iran, E3/EU must abide by own commitments & demand an end to Trump’s legacy of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran,” Zarif wrote. “Our remedial measures are a response to US/E3 violations. Remove the cause if you fear the effect We’ll follow ACTION w/ action.”

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. came to a fever pitch in January of last year during the Trump administration when the U.S. killed one of the country’s top generals, Qassem Soleimani. 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released a statement on Thursday, expressing his support for renewed talks with Iran.

“I have long stated that Iran must not be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Schiff said.

“Consequently, I welcome the Biden Administration’s announcement that it intends to pursue a renewed diplomatic effort, in close cooperation with our European allies. We must restore Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

Updated 9:56 p.m.  

Tags Adam Schiff Antony Blinken Donald Trump Iran Iran nuclear deal framework Iran–United States relations Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Mike Pompeo Mohammad Javad Zarif Nuclear program of Iran

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