A report from Politico on Monday said the Biden administration was ready to offer a proposal to Iran that would give some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran halting some activity of its civilian nuclear program, such as stopping enriching uranium at 20 percent.
An unnamed Iranian official responded to the report and told Iran’s Press TV on Tuesday that Tehran would only halt 20 percent enrichment if the US lifts all sanctions that have been reimposed since 2018. “Twenty percent uranium enrichment is in line with Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA and will be stopped only if the US lifts all the sanctions,” the official said.
Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA allows the agreement’s participants to suspend commitments if other signatories are out of compliance. Since the US withdrew from the deal in 2018 and is out of compliance, Iran’s nuclear activity outside of the limits of the JCPOA is technically not a violation of the agreement.
“The Biden administration is losing time, and if it fails to lift the sanctions soon, Iran will take the next steps, which will be further reduction of its JCPOA commitments,” the Iranian official told Press TV.
It’s not clear from the Politico report how much sanctions relief the US is willing to offer. Iran is under an enormous amount of sanctions. Some are crippling the economy, and others are more symbolic, which means the Biden administration has a lot of options of sanctions it could lift that would not really give Tehran any relief.
So far, the Biden administration has failed to make a significant effort to return to the JCPOA and rejected Iran’s earlier calls for the two countries to take mutual steps to revive the agreement. Now, the administration says it is seeking talks with Iran, and the US is trying to portray Iran as the difficult party.
The fact is, the US can revive the JCPOA at any time by lifting sanctions. Even the most hardline elements in Iran have said they are willing to return to the limits set by the JCPOA if the US lifts sanctions. But President Biden is under domestic pressure not to return to the original deal, and according to the Politico report, the president “appears in no rush to restore the original deal.”