Since the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions on Iran to restore the JCPOA, the US is negotiating with Tehran what specific sanctions need to be lifted through indirect talks in Vienna.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration has signaled it is willing to lift sanctions on key sectors of Iran’s economy, including ones on the Islamic Republic’s central bank and nationalized oil and shipping companies.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s central bank over claims of terrorism. It hasn’t been clear if the Biden Administration was willing to lift non-nuclear-related sanctions, whether they are terror-related or over alleged human right violation. But since vital parts of Iran’s economy are under “terror” sanctions, not lifting them would be a non-starter for Iran.
The Wall Street Journal report also said the two sides are at odds over the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. Sources told the Journal that the Biden administration is unwilling to lift the terror designation of the IRGC. This could be unacceptable to Iran since the sweeping designation sanctions any members of the IRGC.
The Trump administration’s move to designate another state’s military as a terror organization was an unprecedented move. If President Biden is unwilling to lift the designation, it’s tough to believe he is serious about reversing Trump’s policies and rejoining the JCPOA.
A State Department official told reporters on Wednesday that the US has broken down the sanctions to Iran into three categories. One category is sanctions that the US is willing to lift. The second category is sanctions that the US is unwilling to lift. And the third category is sanctions that the US is not sure about, what the officials called “difficult cases.” The official said the US told Iran that it needs to review all of the sanctions in the third category.