Iran and US hit stalemate over return to crucial nuclear deal – EU caught in the middle

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Yesterday, President Joe Biden’s administration said the US would not yet accept a return to the commitments of the deal – known as the JCPOA – because Iran is not meeting its obligations under it. At the same time, Iran said it would not begin meeting its terms of the deal unless the US moves first to lift sanctions.

The JCPOA is a 2015 international agreement between the US, Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK.

The deal aims to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons by placing restrictions on enriched uranium development. In return, international sanctions on Iran are lifted.

However, Donald Trump controversially pulled the US out of the deal in in 2018, claiming Iran was building a nuclear program anyway.

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The former president then re-imposed sanctions on Iran. As such, Iran began violating its terms of the deal.

Iran remains a participant of the JCPOA and says it will begin complying with it again if sanction relief is put back in place.

Joe Biden is said to support a US return to the deal, but this week his team rejected a proposal by Iran to allow the EU to supervise that return.

READ: Iran stand-off: Joe Biden faces huge dilemma over nuclear deal – ‘Who moves when?’

Speaking to CNN, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said the EU could “choreograph” the actions that both the US and Iran should take.

He added: “The United States needs to come back into compliance and Iran will be ready immediately to respond.

“If we are away from the strict limitations of the nuclear agreement it’s because the United States tried to impose a full economic war on Iran.”

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However, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said yesterday: “If Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would do the same.”

The European Union has now said it is working with Joe Biden’s administration to find a way of lifting the restrictions against Iran so that a return to the deal can be organised.

Peter Stano, a spokesman for Josep Borrell, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, said: “We’re talking to the American administration to see if those sanctions could be lifted, to see if we can have full implementation of the JCPOA,” France24 reports.

Last week, it was reported that Robert Malley, a key architect of the JCPOA in the first place under former US President Barack Obama, would be named as special envoy for Iran by the Biden administration.

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