A great distance

Iran has urged the new administration in the US to seize the opportunity to adopt new approaches to bilateral issues. However, the tough statement by US President Joe Biden demanding that Teheran strictly adhere to the 2015 nuclear deal has made the distance between the two sides become even more difficult to narrow.

A great distance

The new administration in the US was once expected to revive cooperation between the US and Iran on the nuclear issue, which came to a standstill as the administration of the former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), signed with the P5+1 in 2015.

Immediately after taking over the White House, President J. Biden greenlighted the US reentry into JCPoA. However, even though the US President has a softer attitude in his approach to Iran, the US' tough stance on Teheran's nuclear issue does not seem to have changed.

Although Iran called on Washington to lift sanctions as a condition for negotiation, President Biden affirmed the US would not lift its economic sanctions on Iran. The US aims to restore the pact in which Iran agreed to curb its disputed uranium enrichment programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Iran had urged the White House to take the opportunity to “test a new approach” to solving bilateral issues. Iran firmly said that the US must loosen the sanctions first, while at the same time rejecting any changes to the JCPoA as well as calls to expand the terms of the deal. Iran argued the US and the European countries that signed the JCPoA need to fulfil their obligations to protect the interests of Tehran as specified in the agreement.

In its latest move, Iran announced it would continue to reduce its commitments in the JCPoA, if the other parties to the agreement fail to fulfil their obligations. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson mentioned a lawmandating the government to be adamant with its nuclear stance. Iran’s parliament passed legislation last month that forces the government to harden its nuclear stance if US sanctions are not eased within two months. Accordingly, the bill would suspend UN inspections of its nuclear facilities and require the government to boost uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently said that Iran has started producing uranium metal, an act in contravention of the contents of the JCPoA. More than a month ago, the Islamic nation announced it was speeding up the country's enrichment process by 20%, much higher than the 3.67% allowed in the deal, but still far from the levels needed to produce a nuclear bomb.

When he took office, US President J. Biden announced he would seek to restore the JCPoA and bring the US back to this multilateral nuclear deal, a key document aimed at curbing nuclear “ambitions” and maintaining stability in the region. However, both the US and Iran required the other to act first, making it difficult for both sides to narrow their disagreement.

The door to reopening US-Iran negotiations has not yet been opened as both sides continue to adopt a tough stance. This requires the European powers to join in a stronger manner as an intermediary to get the two sides back on track to resolving this long-lasting nuclear problem.