Acting US Ambassador Richard Mills on Thursday informed the UN Security Council that the US “hereby withdraws” the three letters sent by the Trump administration—the most recent one on September 19—which reimposed UN sanctions against Iran.
According to Reuters, although President Joe Biden in his phone conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday mentioned Iran, he said nothing to the Israeli leader about his plan to bring back the nuclear deal as is. This should serve as a major red alert to Netanyahu, who is best remembered by Biden et al as the PM who defied President Obama by advocating in an open speech to both houses of Congress against the nuclear deal.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the ambassador announced that the sanctions which had been terminated by the 2015 council resolution following the signing of a nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers (JCPOA) “remain terminated.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday that “the United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UNSC and Germany – DI) and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”
Iran for its part has breached the JCPOA deal in 2019 by enriching uranium up to 20%, significantly above the curbs of the original deal. Iran had been claiming that its enrichment program was intended only for peaceful energy, which does not require such high purity levels of refined uranium. On the other hand, highly enriched uranium is one potential way to produce nuclear weapons.
A joint statement from the UK, France, and Germany on January 6 this year—weeks before President Biden’s inauguration—said that “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.”
The Trump administration activated the “snapback” option offered by the UNSC 2015 resolution, which allows reinstating the sanctions should Iran be in “significant non-performance” of its obligations under the deal.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the architect of the JCPOA deal, tweeted on February 11 (sic): “Biden administration officials keep talking about Iran’s compliance with JCPOA. In what capacity? US ceased participation in May 2018, violated JCPOA & punished those complying with UN resolution. As of today, US remains in EXACTLY same position. Before spouting off, COMPLY.”
So on Thursday, the Biden administration did just that, complied with a faulty deal that the other side had violated numerous times. And, in a style so reminiscent of the Obama administration’s contempt for anyone who stood in its way on the Iran deal, an anonymous State Department official told Bloomberg that the moves were not a concession to Iran but “a concession to common sense.” The official insisted that Trump’s stick and stick approach to the Islamic Republic had only brought Iran closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon.
Also, the US is lifting Trump’s travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats in New York City. The Iranian envoys would still have to comply with restrictions from before Trump, but that would bring much relief to the house-bound Iranians in Manhattan.
And while Netanyahu may be plotting right now new ways to gallantly push back the Biden plan, the new president has received unequivocal support from China’s Foreign Ministry, which tweeted on Friday that the US was adopting “the only correct approach to resolve the impasse on the Iranian nuclear issue.”
According to TASS, Russia supports China’s position welcoming the Biden administration back to the Iranian nuclear deal. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reminded reporters on Monday that on February 21 the bill passed by Iran that frees it from complying with the IAEA inspections goes into effect unless the US lifts its sanctions.
“We are calling on the US to show political will and send a signal to Iran and other members of the international community showing readiness to rejoin the JCPOA. It would be important to start by lifting all sanctions which formed the backbone of the so-called policy of maximum pressure towards Iran under the Trump administration,” Ryabkov said on Monday.
Ryabkov said he was certain that rescinding the sanctions would stop the controls on Iran’s nuclear efforts from deteriorating further as a result of the new law. He also noted that Moscow was “calling on the Iranian colleagues to show responsibility and restraint.”
Especially now, that the American colleagues have shown this much “responsibility and restraint.”
The Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office released the following statement on Friday afternoon in response:
Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons and its position on the nuclear agreement has not changed. Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. Israel is in close contact with the United States on this matter.