Iran nuclear deal

No positive developments on JCPOA but US still committed to deal: State Dept

“This administration remains categorically committed to mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA,” a senior State Department official told reporters on a phone call.

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A senior State Department official on Friday lamented the lack of progress on a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but stressed that the Biden administration remains determined to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“This administration remains categorically committed to mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA,” the official told reporters on a phone call. “We assess that to be strongly in the US national interests, and we’ll continue to work with our allies and partners to try to conclude and to begin that reimplementation.”

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Prior to this week’s UN General Assembly, US officials played down the prospects of any breakthroughs in talks as senior officials from Washington and Tehran would both be in New York. There was still a glimmer of hope for some officials who continue to strike an optimistic tone about the ability to reach a deal.

“We didn’t hear anything particularly positive in New York this week,” said the official who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official pointed to Iran’s demand that the UN nuclear watchdog closes its probe into undisclosed nuclear activities inside the Islamic Republic. “Our bottom line here is very clear: the IAEA has asked some questions that Iran needs to answer… That is the absolute heart of the IAEA mandate… and we are 100 percent supportive of their independent efforts to execute that mandate,” the official said.

Biden administration officials have defended efforts to reach an agreement with Iran, saying that problems in the Middle East would not become easier to solve without a nuclear deal with Tehran.

But as indirect talks have gone on for over 16 months, critics and many Democratic lawmakers have called on the US president to walk away from the table.

On multiple occasions, it appeared that a deal was within reach. However, according to Washington, Iran repeatedly threw in last-minute demands and reneged on previous promises.

And in a bid to ramp up pressure on Iran, the Biden administration levied sanctions against various Iranian sectors, including its drone program and other security apparatuses.

This week, the US sanctioned Iran’s so-called morality police after a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died in custody after being detained for “improper hijab.”

This sparked nationwide anti-government protests and led the Iranian government to restrict or cut off internet access for many Iranians.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department issued general licenses to expand the range of internet services available to Iranians after Ebrahim Raisi’s government cracked down.

The State Department official said the Biden administration would continue to use all of the tools it has to address concerns about Iran “whether we’re negotiating to return to the JCPOA, in the JCPOA, or not.”

Nevertheless, the official defended the JCPOA saying it was only meant to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and not its drone technology, arms proliferation, support for terrorist groups, or human rights abuses.

Read more: US takes steps to expand internet access to Iranians after government crackdown

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