Bloomberg reported Friday that European officials expect EU-brokered efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal will resume after President Biden’s trip to the Middle East, which will take place from July 13-16.
While the Biden administration doesn’t appear willing to lift the necessary sanctions to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, France has expressed interest in getting Iranian oil back on the market as energy prices soar.
The EU mediated indirect talks between the US in Iran this week in Doha, but the negotiations didn’t last long, and no progress was made. But Iranian officials have said that they’re still optimistic that a deal can be reached.
“Our assessment of the recent round of talks in Doha is positive,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Thursday. He also wrote on Twitter that Tehran was ready to “reach a good, robust and lasting deal.”
The US side said “no progress” was made in Doha and blamed Iran for making demands “wholly unrelated” to the nuclear deal. Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported that a deal wasn’t reached because a draft text the US put forward didn’t include guarantees “for Iran’s economic benefit.”
The Biden administration has taken the position that any sanctions not related to Iran’s nuclear program or the economic benefits Tehran is supposed to receive from the JCPOA cannot be lifted.
But since the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, the US has slapped an enormous number of sanctions on Iran technically not nuclear-related but still damaging to the Islamic Republic’s economy. During the final months of the Trump administration, sanctions were added with the purpose of preventing a US re-entry into the JCPOA.
A major sticking point in earlier talks was Iran’s demand to lift the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organization.” The sweeping designation means that any Iranian that was in the IRGC is subject to US sanctions, even if they were conscripted and served in a non-combat role. But ahead of the talks in Doha, Iran dropped its demand to have the IRGC designation lifted.