The Biden administration said Thursday that it was willing to hold talks with Iran and other world powers to negotiate Tehran’s nuclear program, marking a first step in a proposed diplomatic settlement that could see Washington re-enter Iran’s nuclear agreement in 2015, according to AP.
The United States will be prepared to consider an invitation from the High Representative of the European Union to join a meeting of the countries that signed the nuclear deal in 2015—Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran—”to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” said Ned Price, State Department spokesperson.
The bid coincided with a tweet from the Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the European Union, Enrique Mora, who said that the nuclear agreement was at a “a critical moment” and that he was ready to invite all parties to a “an informal meeting to discuss the way forward.”
Senior State Department officials told reporters that the announcement was not a breakthrough, but rather a first step in a potentially lengthy and arduous diplomatic effort.
“I think we recognize that this is just a very first initial step to say that we are prepared to attend the meeting that would be convened by the EU,” said a senior State Department official. “We recognize that that’s not in and of itself a breakthrough, even the first meeting itself may not be a breakthrough,” the official told reporters.
“But it is a step. Until we sit down and talk nothing’s going to happen.”
Joe Biden had pledged during his campaign that he would be willing to put the U.S. back into the nuclear deal if Iran had returned to comply with the agreement’s limitations on its nuclear work. But since the inauguration of Biden, government officials have made prudent statements and made no indication as to when the talks will begin with Iran.
After several weeks in which neither side was ready to make its first diplomatic move, it was on Thursday that the U.S. indicated its willingness to sit down at the negotiating table.
In the aftermath of the declaration, there was no immediate response from Iran.
The senior official of the State Department indicated that the ball was now in the court of the Iranians as to whether they would accept the EU invitation.
“We’ll find out I assume, in the coming days, whether they are prepared to join a meeting that the EU would convene. Of course, our hope is that they would, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” the official said.
After the November elections in Biden, Iran has flouted the agreement’s limits on its nuclear program. The diplomatic green light of the Biden administration came to bar U.N. in the midst of a threat from Iran. Nuclear watchdog inspectors will have access to nuclear facilities from next week unless Washington lifts economic sanctions.
The State Department’s announcement came hours after a joint statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British, French and German counterparts following the talks on Thursday. In the declaration, Blinken signaled that the U.S. will be “prepared to engage in discussions with Iran” on the return of both countries to the nuclear agreement.
The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China lifted foreign and US sanctions against Tehran in exchange for strict limits on the country’s nuclear programme.
Feb 8: Iran says US must lift sanctions before Tehran rejoins nuclear deal
The leader of Iran’s Islamic regime said if the United States wants the regime to “return to its commitments” and rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, it must lift economic sanctions.
“Iran has fulfilled all its obligations under the deal, not the United States and the three European countries. … If [the United States] want Iran to return to its commitments, the United States must in practice … lift all sanctions,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a meeting, according to state TV.
“Then, after verifying whether all sanctions have been lifted correctly, we will return to full compliance. … It is the irreversible and final decision, and all Iranian officials have consensus over it.”
After Trump quit and reimposed sanctions, Iran began violating some of the deal’s limits on sensitive uranium enrichment. Washington and Tehran now disagree over how best to restore the accord, with both sides demanding the other side act first to return to compliance.
Feb 9: Biden says America will not lift sanctions unless Iran stops enriching uranium
Asked by CBS whether the United States would lift sanctions first to kickstart negotiations with Iran, Biden said, “No.” He then gestured in the affirmative when anchor Norah O’Donnell asked whether Iran would have to stop enriching uranium first.
Biden while campaigning last year said he would reenter the agreement if he were elected.
“The historic Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside our allies and other world powers, blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump decided to cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, bringing the region to the cusp of another disastrous war,” Biden’s campaign website states.
“If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would reenter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”
Feb 15: Iran says it will end snap IAEA inspections if nuclear deal terms not met
Iran said on Feb. 15 that it will block snap inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog from next week if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal don’t uphold their obligations, a challenge to U.S. President Joe Biden’s hope of reviving the accord.
“If others do not fulfill their obligations by Feb. 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
“It does not mean ending all inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. … All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honors its obligations,” he said, alluding to the United States.
Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote on Twitter on Feb. 15 that Tehran has informed the U.N. watchdog about its plan next week to end sweeping inspection powers given to the agency under the nuclear pact.