Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who is in the running to be Joe Biden’s secretary of state, said on Friday that he would only support returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if it included a plan to work towards a stricter agreement.
When asked if he would support returning to the agreement, Coons told Reuters, “Not without some clear path towards addressing the missile program and support for proxies.” Coons said the US would “need a path forward for limits on their missile program and their support for proxies before I would support reentering the JCPOA. These need to happen at the same time.”
Coons’ demands are likely a non-starter for negotiations with Iran. Tehran has made it clear they have no interest in agreeing to a tougher deal until the US comes back into compliance with the deal and gives Iran sanctions relief.
Speaking to The Associated Press on Thursday, an advisor to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated Tehran’s stance on its ballistic missiles. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power … with anybody under any circumstances,” Hossein Dehghan said. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is in our experts, young people and industrial centers.”
On the campaign trail, Biden said he would reenter the deal as a starting point with Iran. “I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations,” Biden wrote in an Op-Ed for CNN in September.
There are a lot of forces hard at work looking to sabotage Biden’s plans. Officials from Israel and some Gulf states have been publicly voicing their objection to the US rejoining the deal. The Trump administration is planning to sanction Iran as much as possible to make it difficult for Biden to rejoin the pact.