On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said even if the US rejoins the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, “hundreds” of sanctions would still remain on Iran, including Trump-era measures.
“I would anticipate that, even in the event of a return to compliance with the JCPOA, hundreds of sanctions remain in place, including sanctions imposed by the Trump administration,” Blinken told a Senate hearing.
Blinken’s remarks are just his latest bad faith comment about the indirect negotiations between the US and Iran that have been ongoing since April. Because the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions, the talks are being dragged out.
Blinken and other Biden officials justify their refusal to lift all of Trump’s sanctions by claiming they will only lift measures that are “consistent” with the economic relief Iran expects from the JCPOA. “If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain unless and until Iran’s behavior changes,” Blinken said.
The Trump administration imposed an enormous number of sanctions on Iran. Some were implemented over Tehran’s nuclear program, while others were put in place over claims of “terrorism” and alleged human rights violations. From the start of negotiations, the Biden administration has been clear that it is not going to lift all human rights and terror sanctions.
One terror-related measure the Biden administration is reportedly unwilling to lift is the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organization.” But the IRGC designation is a sweeping measure, as it subjects current and former members of the military organization to US sanctions.
Keeping the IRGC designation would likely not be acceptable to Tehran, especially after the June presidential elections, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to be replaced by a more hardline candidate.
Since the US is the party that violated the JCPOA in the first place, and Iran is still technically in compliance, Tehran is calling on Biden to lift all of Trump’s sanctions if he is serious about reviving the deal. The fact that Iran is negotiating at all is a major concession. But if the talks don’t go anywhere due to the US’s refusal to lift enough sanctions, the Biden administration will undoubtedly blame it on Iran.