UPDATED 5:00 PM PT – Friday, February 19, 2021
The Biden administration announced its plans to open dialogue with Iran regarding America’s return to the 2015 nuclear deal. On Friday, Joe Biden announced the U.S. is looking forward to coming to a diplomatic agreement in order to revive the deal.
President Donald Trump famously withdrew from the deal in 2018, saying it failed to stop the development of ballistic missiles and handed Iran billions of dollars, used to fund terrorism across the Middle East.
However, Biden signaled a willingness to engage with world leaders and Tehran in a bid to return the U.S. to the negotiation table.
“We said we’re prepared to reengage in negotiations with the P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear program,” Biden stated. “We must also address Iran’s destabilizing activities across the Middle East, and we’re going to work in close cooperation with our European and other partners as we proceed.”
Biden’s statement came after Secretary of State Antony Blinken, along with his German, French and British counterparts said on Thursday that the U.S. would be “prepared to engage in discussions.”
The administration has already softened its stance on Iran in comparison with the last administration. Reports have said Biden formally rescinded the effort by President Trump to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran. It further pulled back the restrictions on domestic travel for Iranian officials working at the UN.
On Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. was prepared to attend a meeting of the countries that signed the deal to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program. He noted, while Tehran has already gone beyond what the deal allows in terms of limits on its nuclear program, the steps are “reversible.”
“If Iran resumes its full compliance with the deal, we will do the same. Importantly, as you have also heard us say, that the deal for us, it is a floor. It’s not a ceiling,” Price said. “We want to go beyond the 2015 deal, lengthen and strengthen it and build on it with follow-on arrangements to address other areas of concern when it comes to our relationship with Iran.”
Unfortunately, Iran has indicated it will only backtrack on its progress if the U.S. “unconditionally lifts all sanctions,” a point made by the Iranian foreign minister.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made similar comments during a statement on Wednesday.
“We have heard many nice words and promises, which in practice have been broken and opposite actions have been taken,” Khamenei stated. “Words and promises are no good. This time we want only action from the other side and we will also act.”
The post-U.S. era has started.
— Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei | سید علی خامنهای (@Rahbar_Khamenei) February 7, 2021
Iran’s state media have already called the effort a “defeat for America.”
One State Department official warned if the Biden team continues to roll back restrictions with only the hope of starting talks, Iran is “going to eat our lunch” in the negotiations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently praised a phone call he received from Biden, reiterated his government’s longtime stance against the deal hasn’t changed. He noted Israel believes that going back to the old agreement will “pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal.”