On Monday, an anonymous US official close to the Biden administration told Sky News Arabia that President Biden is seeking direct talks with Iran and is pursuing that dialogue through European mediators.
Also on Monday, Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi told NBC News that Iran has not spoken to the new administration. “No, there has not been any conversation between Iran and the US after Biden came into office.”
When asked if Iran was planning to open up a direct dialogue with the US or through intermediaries, Ravanchi said Iran is “not planning to initiate anything.”
The reports come a day after President Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron. During a phone call on Sunday, the two leaders discussed the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
France and other European signatories to the JCPOA made some effort to preserve the deal after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018, although it was never enough to offset the cost of US sanctions to Iran.
The source that spoke with Sky News also said that the Biden administration’s approach to Iran will be accompanied by contacts with regional US allies, like Israel and the Gulf states. Israel and Gulf states Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, have all spoken out against the idea of Biden reviving the JCPOA.
A report from Israel’s Channel 12 News that came out Saturday said Israel’s Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is set to meet with President Biden next month to discuss the JCPOA. Cohen is expected to lay out Israel’s expectations for Biden’s Iran strategy.
So far, neither President Biden nor his cabinet members have made public comments on Iran that make it clear what the administration is planning. While on the campaign trail, Biden said he would work with Iran to revive the JCPOA and negotiate a stricter follow-on agreement on top of it.
Iran, on the other hand, has made its stance very clear. Writing in Foreign Affairs last week, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called on President Biden to lift sanctions on Iran if he was serious about salvaging the JCPOA. Zarif said Iran would quickly come into compliance with the deal once sanctions were lifted.