Iran deal: Biden administration restores sanctions waiver as time runs out to save nuclear deal

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The senior State Department official said the waiver was “not a concession to Iran,” nor was it “a signal that we are moving toward a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). some. the formal name of the nuclear deal.

The move comes, however, as officials involved in ongoing talks in Vienna to salvage the deal – which the US abandoned in 2018 and from which Iran is increasingly noncompliant – have reached a stage that requires “political decisions” to be made quickly be made. The last round of talks has been adjourned since last Friday.

“We are issuing the waiver now for one simple reason: it will allow some of our international partners to have more detailed technical discussions to enable collaboration, which we see as being in our non-proliferation interest,” the official said.

The official added that “the technical talks facilitated by the waiver are necessary in the final weeks of JCPOA talks, and the waiver itself would be essential to ensure Iran swiftly meets its nuclear commitments.”

“If the talks do not result in a return to the nuclear deal, such technical discussions could still help achieve our non-proliferation goals,” they said.

A congressional aide told CNN that Capitol Hill had been notified of the restoration of the waiver.

The waivers will allow companies and countries to continue work on civilian nuclear projects at Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, Arak Heavy Hydroelectric Power Plant and Tehran Research Reactor.

The Trump administration issued a sanctions waiver for such work under the 2015 deal, even after withdrawing from the deal in 2018, saying it helped “preserve oversight of Iran’s civilian nuclear program” and “Reducing Proliferation Risks”.

However, in May 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would end the sanctions waiver.
The senior State Department official described restoring the waiver that was reported first by the AP as a return to the “status quo”.

Iran has progressively backed away from its obligations under the deal, and US officials have warned that given Iran’s rapid nuclear developments, there are only weeks left to return to the deal. Tehran has called for broad sanctions relief before returning to the deal.

A senior administration official said Iran has not asked for the waiver to be restored and claims it does not see it as sanctions relief.

“The only way for Iran to get ‘sanctions relief’ under the waiver is to implement the projects, which would be a clear win for us as it would be a partial re-implementation of the JCPOA,” the administration official said.

Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) told CNN that “issuing waivers authorizing civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran at a time when Iran is in violation of the JCPOA is a strategic error “.

He also noted that “the news of the waiver is the clearest sign yet that a revived Iran deal could be on the way.”

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