Time for US to Change Course

Time for US to Change Course
Time for US to Change Course

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it is time for the United States to change course and stop using its maximum pressure policy as a “bargaining leverage” in negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
He made the remarks on Twitter in response to US claims that Iran’s willingness to resume full compliance with JCPOA is in doubt.
Washington, under its former president Donald Trump, pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran in hope of reaching a “better deal”. Iran, in response, scaled down its commitments as per the provisions of the very accord.
US President Joe Biden intends to rejoin the deal and negotiations started in early April among JCPOA parties and the US in Vienna, Austria, to work out the steps each side should take to return to full compliance.
Iran demands a complete removal of sanctions in an effective and verifiable manner before it reverses its nuclear steps, which it says could happen shortly.
Nevertheless, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that Washington is unsure if Iran is “willing and prepared” to take the required measures.
“It remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do come back into compliance,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Zarif said in his tweet that Iran is also unsure about the US readiness to lift sanctions and return to its JCPOA obligations without trying to win more concessions out of Iran.
“It remains unclear whether @POTUS [Biden] and @SecBlinken are ready to bury the failed ‘maximum pressure’ policy of Trump and [former Secretary of State] @mikepompeo, and cease using #EconomicTerrorism as bargaining ‘leverage’,” he said.

No Breach

Blinken also expressed concern about Iran’s steps beyond the deal’s limits, saying the country is moving closer to building a nuclear weapon, a plan Tehran has always strongly denied seeking.
JCPOA restrictions were aimed at making it harder for Iran to obtain fissile material for a weapon as the deal promised relief from US, EU and UN sanctions in return.
Iran has exceeded those limits ever since US sanctions were reimposed and new ones were introduced, effectively jeopardizing its JCPOA interests.   
Blinken said the “breakout time” Iran needs to amass enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon is now down to a few months, warning that it could shrink to weeks if this course continues.
Zarif reiterated that all nuclear steps are part of remedial measures envisioned in the script of the nuclear pact, rejecting breaching accusations.  
“Iran is in compliance with the #JCPOA. Just read paragraph 36,” he said.
The atmosphere of mistrust between Tehran and Washington still lingers despite the reportedly good progress in Vienna talks.  
Negotiators concluded a fifth round of talks last week and are expected to resume the discussions possibly on Thursday after consultations in capitals.
Differences have narrowed, according to participants, but a few key issues still remain. It is uncertain if the negotiating parties can reach an agreement before Iran’s June 18 elections, which could see a conservative president come to power.

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