On Tuesday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said a US return to the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, is still possible, although he said it will be difficult to achieve.
“They want to come back,” IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said of the US while speaking to European lawmakers. “But of course … there are a number of issues that still need to be clarified. So it’s not impossible. It is difficult, but not impossible.”
Last month, Iran stopped voluntarily complying with the Additional Protocol, a mechanism of the JCPOA that allowed the IAEA to conduct snap inspections. But Grossi struck a three-month deal with Tehran to soften the blow of the inspection limitation. Grossi has defended the agreement in the face of US pressure to condemn it.
“Admittedly it is limited, but it allows to maintain a record of the basic activities that are taking place,” Grossi said of the deal on Tuesday. He said the remaining JCPOA participants should use this three-month “diplomatic window of opportunity” that Iran has granted.
“In this time period, the parties involved will hopefully be able to achieve, or at least start to move back to the JCPOA,” Grossi said.
The Biden administration is demanding that Iran reverse the steps it has taken to increase the activity of its civilian nuclear program before the US lifts sanctions. But since Washington is the party that violated the deal, Tehran wants Biden to act first.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the US should move quickly to revive the deal before the upcoming Iranian presidential elections in June. But US Iran envoy Robert Malley had previously said Iran’s elections are not a factor for the Biden administration, another sign the US is in no hurry to give Iran sanctions relief.
Biden officials have also said they are willing to enter talks with Iran. But demanding talks before giving sanctions relief is the same failed strategy the Trump administration pursued.