As U.S. President Joe Biden begins a diplomatic push to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, supporters of the deal say he will need a long-term effort to succeed, while opponents say he should focus instead on pressuring Tehran into a new and tougher deal.
The 2015 agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5+1. It requires Iran to undertake eight- to 15-year-long curbs in nuclear activities with potential for weaponization in exchange for international sanctions relief. Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 saying it was not tough enough on Iran, which has retaliated by exceeding the deal’s nuclear limits since 2019.
“We’re prepared to reengage in negotiations with the P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear program,” Biden said Friday at the White House, in a speech to a virtual version of the Munich Security Conference, an annual forum on international security policy.
Biden, who has pledged to return to the JCPOA if Iran first resumes full compliance, responded positively to an EU proposal made Thursday for the six world powers and Iran to attend an informal meeting to discuss how to revive the agreement. A State Department spokesman said the U.S. would accept such an invitation, which has yet to be publicly offered.
The Biden administration also made two gestures toward Iran, withdrawing a Trump administration request for the U.N. Security Council to trigger a “snapback” of Iran sanctions, a request that other council members rejected, and easing some travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats working at the U.N. in New York.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter by reiterating a demand for the U.S. to “unconditionally & effectively lift all [U.S.] sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump” since 2018 as part of what Trump called a “maximum pressure” campaign for Iran to end objectionable behaviors including alleged nuclear weapons development that Tehran denies. Zarif said Tehran “will immediately reverse” all of its JCPOA violations if the U.S. complies.
US acknowledged Pompeo's claims re Res. 2231 had no legal validity.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 19, 2021
In compliance w/ 2231:
US unconditionally & effectively lift all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump.
We will then immediately reverse all remedial measures.