According to a report from Middle East Eye, the US and Iran are near a deal that would reduce Iran’s uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief, although it’s not certain that a final agreement will be reached.
Sources told MEE that direct talks between US and Iranian officials have been taking place on US soil, which marks a significant diplomatic development between the two nations as previous negotiations were indirect and took place in Vienna.
President Biden’s special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, has been leading the US delegation. The Iranian delegation has been led by Amir Saeed Iravani, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations.
The MEE report said that the US wasn’t interested in restoring the original 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, but an interim agreement is on the table. The deal would involve Iran stopping enriching uranium at 60%.
Iran would also have to continue cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran and the IAEA have recently resolved several outstanding issues, and Tehran has a history of being very transparent about its nuclear program despite US and Israeli claims.
In exchange for the Iranian steps, the US would allow Iran to export up to one million barrels of oil per day, and Tehran would be able to access some of its frozen funds. Haaretz first reported the US and Iran were close to a deal and said Tehran would be able to access about $20 billion of its assets held in South Korea, Iraq, and at the International Monetary Fund.
The deal is not finalized as both sides need the approval of their leadership. President Biden is already coming under pressure from hawks in Congress who are against any sort of diplomacy with Iran or sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic. US sanctions on Iran have done nothing to change the government but have had a devastating impact on ordinary Iranians.