Western powers continue to blame Iran for the slow progress of the negotiations to revive the nuclear deal even though the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, and now the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Paris Friday. Both Blinken and his French counterpart warned Iran that time was running out to revive the JCPOA. “There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA,” Blinken told reporters. “We haven’t reached that point — I can’t put a date on it — but it’s something that we’re conscious of.”
Blinken also said there are still “serious differences” between the US and Iran. After the sixth round of talks concluded on Sunday, an Iranian official said the two sides had agreed that the US would lift major oil and shipping sanctions and about 1,000 of the 1,500 sanctions imposed by President Trump. But Blinken’s State Department rejected the claim and made it clear that “nothing is agreed.”
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke alongside Blinken in Paris and portrayed the situation as if Iran were responsible for delaying a JCPOA revival. “We’re waiting for Iranian authorities to take the final difficult decisions to allow for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal,” he said.
Blinken suggested Iran’s new centrifuges could complicate reviving the JCPOA. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded and said during the Vienna talks, “it has been constantly stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully prepared to stop its remedial efforts and restart implementing its commitments under the JCPOA with the condition that it is fully implemented by the US.”
The US has been downplaying the idea that Iran’s presidential elections will have much impact on the talks. President-elect Ebrahim Raisi will take office in August. He is viewed as a hardliner but still favors a return to the JCPOA if the US lifts sanctions. But Raisi could be the excuse the Biden administration needs to call off the talks since he might not be as patient with Washington as Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani.