As indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the JCPOA are being dragged out, Washington continues to blame Tehran for the lack of progress despite President Biden’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions.
Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was “unclear” if Iran was willing to revive the JCPOA. “We’ve been engaged in indirect conversations, as you know, for the last couple of months, and it remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do to come back into compliance,” he said.
Blinken’s comments rely on the false narrative that Tehran is violating the JCPOA. The reality is, the US is the party that violated the deal in 2018 by imposing sanctions on Iran. Technically, Iran and the other JCPOA signatories — Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany — are still parties to the deal, while the US is not.
Despite positive comments about the talks that have been ongoing in Vienna from EU mediators, Blinken made it sound like there’s a chance no agreement will be reached. “We’re not even at the stage of returning to compliance for compliance,” Blinken said. “We don’t know if that’s actually going to happen.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to Blinken’s comments on Twitter. “It remains unclear whether @POTUS and @SecBlinken are ready to bury the failed ‘maximum pressure’ policy of Trump and @mikepompeo, and cease using #EconomicTerrorism as bargaining ‘leverage,'” Zarif wrote.
Zarif also reminded the Biden administration that Iran is still technically in compliance with the nuclear deal. “Iran is in compliance with the #JCPOA. Just read paragraph 36,” he wrote.
Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA outlines mechanisms the US and Iran could use if they believe the other side is in violation of their commitments. Iran did this by protesting the US sanctions in 2018 and gave other JCPOA participants a whole year to offset the US measures before Iran began gradually increasing the activity of its civilian nuclear program.
Because President Biden does not want to lift all of Trump’s sanctions, the two sides are negotiating what measures the US is willing to lift and what is acceptable relief for Tehran. The talks in Vienna are expected to resume later this week.