The Obama-era nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran could be revived within weeks, a senior State Department official claimed Thursday, adding the decision to do so is entirely up to Tehran.
UPI reports the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity the last three rounds of talks on the matter have helped to “crystallize” what both nations need to do to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a multination 2015 agreement driven by the Obama administration.
In 2018 then-President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise and withdrew the United States from the deal, saying it was ““defective at its core” and tilted toward towards the Islamic republic while penalising the U.S. through the repatriation of vasts sums of cash to Tehran and the easing of billions of dollars worth of sanctions.
“This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump said. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”
Trump also imposed heavy sanctions on Iran, citing its lack of cooperation with a host of conditions set by the Obama agreement.
The JCPOA, the product of protracted negotiations led by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, was widely viewed as the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy effort.
By the terms of the agreement, Iran would accept restrictions to and inspections of its nuclear program designed to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for the cessation of the western sanctions crippling their economy.
Now the Biden administration is ready for a backflip.
“If Iran makes the political decision that it genuinely wants to return to the JCPOA as the JCPOA was negotiated, then it could be done relatively quickly and implementation could be relatively swift,” the official said.
“But we don’t know if Iran has made that decision. We don’t know if they’ve decided that they’re prepared for a strict mutual return to compliance and whether they’re prepared to do so now.”
Asked if a deal can be achieved before the Iranian presidential election on June 18, the official said “absolutely,” but that is up to Iran.
“The Iranian regime would prefer to deal with a Biden administration." https://t.co/myz7GY46IK
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 13, 2020
“If Iran makes that political determination that it is not going to ask more from the U.S. in terms of sanctions relief than what a return to compliance with the JCPOA requires and it’s not going to do less in terms of its nuclear commitments than a return to compliance requires, then that could be done relatively quickly,” the official said.
The Biden administration has been quiet specific sanctions it is willing to lift, although officials have acknowledged some non-nuclear sanctions, such as those Trump imposed for terrorism, ballistic missile activity and human rights abuses, may be eased to make it easier for Iran to respond.
A fourth round of high-level talks in Austria on the deal’s resumption begin Friday.
AP, UPI contributed to this story