According to a report from Bloomberg, the US is considering different options to take with respect to Iran as talks to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, are still on hold.
The report cited anonymous people familiar with the matter who said one option being weighed was to give Iran limited sanctions relief in exchange for a freeze in the Islamic Republic’s “most provocative” aspects of its nuclear program, likely referring to Iran’s uranium enrichment levels.
Iran started enriching some uranium at 60 percent earlier this year in response to an Israeli covert attack on the Natanz nuclear facility. Before that, Iran took the step to enrich some uranium at 20 percent in response to the Israeli assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Iranian officials have been clear that these steps would be reversed if the US returned to its commitments of the JCPOA by lifting sanctions. But the Biden administration refused to lift all Trump-era sanctions, forcing Iran to enter negotiations, and the two sides are still far apart.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US wants to add a sentence to the JCPOA that would require Tehran to enter more negotiations with the US over other issues, like its ballistic missile program. For their part, the Iranians want written guarantees that the US wouldn’t withdraw from the deal again and some sort of mechanism to confirm sanctions relief, which Washington is not willing to provide.
The indirect negotiations to revive the JCPOA started in April, and the last round concluded on June 20th. EU officials said Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi is ready to continue the talks and that they could start in September.
The Bloomberg report said the US is mulling these options due to the increased tensions in the region, including the attack on the Israeli-linked tanker Mercer Street that killed two crew members. Tehran denies it was responsible, but the US and Israel insist it was an Iranian attack and are threatening to take action.