US remains cool to proposals for reviving Iran nuclear deal
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – State Department Spokesperson Ned Price remained cool to the notion of reviving the Iranian Nuclear Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on any terms other than those that were laid out in March.
On Tuesday, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s (EU) Foreign Policy chief, published an op-ed in Britain’s prestigious Financial Times entitled “Now is the time to save the Iran nuclear deal.”
The EU became a mediator between the US and Iran on reviving the deal because Iran was unwilling to speak directly with the US. It is unclear why the Biden administration accepted such an awkward format. Still, Borrell has pursued it with such an astonishing vigor that, in the words of some Israeli officials, he has sent the wrong message to Tehran.
Over the past week, US officials have remained cool to Borrell’s latest diplomacy, even as he described his work as “the best possible deal that I, as facilitator of the negotiations see as feasible.”
White House: “Highly Unlikely” JCPOA Will Be Renewed in Near Future, overriding Robert Malley
Last week, National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk told a group of think tank experts that it was “highly unlikely” that the Iranian nuclear deal would be revived in the near future, according to a report published on Wednesday by the online news magazine Axios.
McGurk blamed Iran for the impasse, saying that Tehran wanted more concessions from the US, but the Biden administration was not prepared to make any more concessions.
Rather, according to McGurk, Washington would accept that no agreement was possible and use sanctions and diplomacy to isolate Iran, “but not needlessly escalate the situation.”
No official explanation has been provided by any party—the US, EU, or Iran—regarding the obstacle to concluding a new JCPOA. However, the issue seems to be the same which caused the suspension of negotiations in March, when Iran raised a new demand: the US take the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off its list of terrorist groups and lift sanctions on the organization.
Robert Malley was the lead negotiator on the JCPOA during the Obama administration, and he was brought back by the Biden administration to lead the renewal of the agreement. Like Borrell, Malley has been single-mindedly focused on restoring the JCPOA.
According to Israeli media, he agreed to Iran’s demand for delisting the IRGC. But there is strong, bipartisan opposition to doing so in the US Congress, and Malley was overruled by Biden, who rejected the notion.
Latest US Position
Thus, on Thursday, when Price was asked about Borrell’s latest proposal, as described in his Financial Times op-ed, Price was non-committal.
Price blamed Iran for the failure to reach an agreement. “We’ve been in touch with our European allies,” he said. “We are reviewing the draft understanding,” and “we’ll share any reactions we have with the EU directly.”
“It is our understanding” that the latest EU proposal “was based on the deal that has been on the table, that was painstakingly negotiated among the P5+1,” which “we have been prepared to accept since March,” Price continued.
So it is not the US, which has been responsible for the failure to reestablish the nuclear deal, Price stated. “There has been one country that has prevented a return to compliance with the JCPOA,” and “that is Iran.”