The United States announced several moves Thursday that appeared to be a sign of easing pressure on Iran, including its willingness to meet with officials from Tehran to discuss the now-defunct nuclear treaty signed in 2015.
Several decisions to backtrack from Trump-era decisions against Iran were announced hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken participated in a virtual meeting with his counterparts from France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Washington then announced that it was ready to restart negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal. “The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
This came shortly after Enrique Mora, the EU’s Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, tweeted hours earlier that he was ready to make the move. “The #JCPOA at a critical moment. Intense talks with all participants and the US. I am ready to invite them to an informal meeting to discuss the way forward,” Mora said on his Twitter account.
As for the talks, a senior State Department official told reporters on a phone briefing that the first meeting would not be an official one and the UN would organize it.
US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley will head the US delegation, which won’t see the participation of foreign ministers. “It remains unclear if Iran will agree to this meeting,” the official said.
Separately, the official confirmed an earlier report by Al Arabiya English that the US informed the United Nations Security Council that it was no longer recognizing a previous US claim that all UN sanctions were reimposed on Iran as part of the “snapback mechanism” from the 2015 Iran deal.
After the Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018, Iran began to breach the agreement and made progress on nuclear enrichment.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then announced the return of all UN sanctions against Iran under the snapback provision of the original deal, claiming that the US had not officially withdrawn.
Despite its unilateral move, Washington was met with stiff opposition from France, Germany and the United Kingdom, who said the move was “incapable of having any legal effect.”
But the US will not make any concessions to Iran, the official said, adding that the purpose would be to revive diplomacy between the two.
#Iran continues to pose a threat to the international community, and it would be a mistake for #US President Joe Biden to ease sanctions on Tehran’s regime, former national security adviser John Bolton tells Al Arabiya.https://t.co/Y46bFzbTtz— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) February 18, 2021
The State Department official also told reporters that the US informed Iran’s UN mission that its diplomat would have their travel restrictions eased. Under Trump, officials were allowed to travel to UN buildings only.
Iran’s diplomats will still need special permission to go beyond a 25-mile radius as is the case, the official added.