WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden ran in support of a return to diplomacy with Iran but made it clear he will not be driven into the 2015 nuclear deal handed down by Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, a series of dates are coming up that will force the new U.S. administration to show its hand.
What are the upcoming dates?
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Biden’s administration has reiterated that it will return to full compliance with the treaty, formally known as the Joint Compact Action Plan (JCPOA), once Iran does.
In other words, Biden will lift sanctions imposed by Trump just after the clerical regime returned on nuclear measures he took to protest these sanctions.
Iran, which may be aware of the widespread hostility facing Washington, wants to ensure that sanctions are lifted before abandoning measures away from the nuclear pledges, which were ‘uranium enrichment’ involves just a short technical step from weapon level levels.
A key date comes on February 21 when Iran, under a law passed in December by the conservation-led parliament, will suspend investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency unless it is controlled. discount U.S. bonds.
Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy at the Armed Forces Control Association in Washington, said Iran can eliminate most measures such as uranium enrichment.
“But the steps that are coming, I think, are a greater risk and more difficult to reverse,” she said.
While Iran has stopped short of threatening to oust IAEA investigators, Davenport was concerned that any loss of access would fuel profitability in Tehran ‘s involvement in illegal activities.
The threat “underlines the importance of full compliance with the renewal of the JCPOA before Iran takes these steps and develops this new knowledge,” she said.
Another key date in June is when Iran holds elections that could empower a hardliner to succeed President Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged his involvement with the West when Barack Obama was president only to see tensions rising under Trump.
With 21 February approaching, “it is vital that diplomacy takes place,” said a former EU diplomat.
“The next 10 days will be important in giving us an idea of what is happening and how successful it will be” in taking Iran back a step, said the diplomat.
“The whole issue is to make sure that the threshold is not crossed by that date,” said another European diplomat.
The diplomat said that position was shared by Russia and China, which are also names for the JCPOA but enjoy much closer ties with Iran than Western powers.
Jon Wolfsthal, who advised Biden when he was Obama’s vice president, said that the United States and Iran, along with other JCPOA countries, could issue a statement before Feb. 21 “which showed the intention for each other to return in full compliance. “
But while it would be better to take action as soon as possible, it was doubtful that decisions would fundamentally change after the elections in Iran, where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has give a final opinion.
“I do not think the United States is going to say, Oh, we have to give up everything we have, because after June it is impossible,” Wolfsthal said, now at the Global Zero anti-nuclear arms movement.
Will the US and Iran speak?
The State Department that considered Ned Price again on Friday said the United States is “not looking at any specific date” when asked about Feb. 21.
The Biden administration has named a special ambassador to Iran, Rob Malley, one of the architects of the JCPOA.
Officially his first act has been to coordinate with the Europeans and will only subsequently revive U.S. relations with Iran that ended under Trump.
But one former adviser to Obama, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “I suspect U.S. officials have been involved with Iranian officials in some way.”
What are the options?
Thomas Countryman, who was the chief military control officer in the Obama administration, said Biden could immediately lift some sanctions to show good intentions.
With the help of the Europeans, the United States and Iran could also take the steps they take, he said.
“Because of the domestic political situation of both countries, I think they need to find a way to say, we didn’t put pressure on,” Countryman said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to “dance” between Washington and Tehran.
Other steps the United States could take, observers say, could include offering Covid-19 vaccines needed by Iran or dismissing protests. from Trump’s time to the International Monetary Fund lending money to Tehran to fight the pandemic.
Israel is pushing for a tougher renegotiation treaty, and Biden has said he will consult with the Jewish state and its Gulf friends before taking steps to restore the agreement.