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US and Iran to Hold Nuclear Talks - with One Big Caveat

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With European nations playing the role of matchmaker, the delicate diplomatic dance that could re-create the much-maligned nuclear deal with Iran will begin Tuesday in Vienna.

Representatives of the U.S. and Iran are not yet at the level where they can meet in the same room, so the game plan is that each will meet in isolation, with European nations who want to avoid being in the middle of a spat between the two trying to mend fences by acting as go-betweens, according to Axios.

During his years as vice president in the Obama administration, President Joe Biden became the administration’s chief salesman for the 2015 deal domestically and a strong proponent of it as a vehicle for international peace.

Former President Donald Trump denounced the deal as “defective at its core” and withdrew the United States from it, preferring to confront Iran with sanctions.

“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” Trump said from the White House in May 2018.

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Biden campaigned on repairing America’s relationship with Iran and creating a new version of the deal.

The Axios report framed the European nations as the drivers of having the two sides talking to each other by proxy.

“If the Americans are in Vienna at the same time and you want to talk to them, it’s OK with us but we will not meet them,” Axios quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that the goal of the indirect talks is to “rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures. No Iran-U.S meeting. Unnecessary.”


The Biden administration was upbeat about the development.

“We obviously welcome this as a positive step, and that’s precisely because we have been clear for weeks now that we are ready to pursue a return to compliance with our JCPOA commitments, consistent with Iran also doing the same,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a Thursday briefing, according to a transcript of the briefing.

Price said the Biden administration has been looking for “the best way to achieve this, including through a series of initial mutual steps. We’ve been looking at options for doing so, including with indirect conversations through our European partners.”

“It’s a positive step, especially if it moves the ball forward on that mutual return to compliance that we’ve talked about for a number of weeks now,” he said.

Not everyone was thrilled.

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On Friday, Jalina Porter, a spokeswoman for the State Department, wanted to be sure the indirect talks are seen as a positive step, according to a transcript of her briefing.

Should the U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal?

“This is a healthy first step forward, and we kind of — we definitely want to underscore that. And obviously, when it comes to issues that are discussed, we’re going to talk about nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to a compliance with the terms of the JCPOA,” she said.

Porter said that relaxing Trump-imposed sanctions is likely to be on the agenda.

“And we won’t preview any specific sanctions, but we’ll definitely say that sanction relief steps that the U.S. would need to take in order to return to that compliance as well will be up for discussion,” she said.

Last month, the Biden administration sought to launch a dialogue with China, only to be lectured instead by Chinese officials.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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