The Biden administration is willing to return to negotiations with Iran over returning to a nuclear treaty, but only if Iran returns to full compliance with the 2015 framework.
Iran has been reluctant to sit down with the United States, and complicating matters is Iran’s June elections, in which the current leadership is likely to be replaced by hardliners. Current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who favored engagement with the United States and Europe and pushed for the 2015 deal, are not running for another term.
State Department Iran envoy Rob Malley told Axios “the pace [of resuming talks] will be determined by how far we can get consistent with defending U.S. national security interests,” reaffirming that while the Biden administration is committed to eventually wrangling a deal, there will be strict conditions. Compliance on the part of the Iranians is a necessity.
Iran has been demanding the U.S. relinquish sanctions, but the Biden administration has held firm in its requirement that sanction relief only comes after Iran stops its nuclear advancement that it was committing in defiance of the deal and international authorities.
“Possible U.S. steps with regard to sanctions can be on the table but we need to get into a conversation with Iran, whether direct or indirect,” a senior State Department official told Axios. “The president will not take unilateral steps when it comes to removing sanctions. Any substantial move by the U.S. will have to be part of a process in which both sides take actions.”
The Iranians have been taken aback and are disappointed that Biden has not been willing to quickly move forward to a new deal.