The change of power in the USA has raised hopes for movement in the nuclear dispute with Iran. Washington is now reaching out to Tehran. But Iran’s demands are high.
In the dispute over the Iranian nuclear deal, the US government is ready to meet with representatives of Iran and the other six contracting states. The US would accept an invitation from the EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell to jointly seek a diplomatic solution, said State Department spokesman in Washington, Ned Price, on Thursday.
Germany, Britain, France and the US had also warned Iran not to restrict the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ‘s access to its facilities. This would be a “dangerous decision”, it said in a joint statement by the foreign ministers of the four states, which was published on Thursday after deliberations between the heads of departments. Ministers urged Tehran to “weigh the ramifications of such a severe measure, especially now as new diplomatic opportunities are opening up”.
At the beginning of the week, Iran informed the IAEA that from Tuesday next week it would no longer adhere to a central part of the agreement to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb. The inspectors should then be denied unlimited access to nuclear facilities. This would de facto leave nothing of the agreement.
Hope to return to the agreement
The Vienna Atomic Energy Agreement was concluded in 2015 between Iran and the USA, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and China. Under President Donald Trump, the United States left unilaterally in 2018. Since the change of power in the White House, there has been hope that the US could revert to the agreement under new President Joe Biden.
The European foreign ministers said they welcomed the “US intention to return to diplomacy with Iran”. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Berlin: “It is our common goal to bring the nuclear agreement with Iran back into full force. We are working to ensure that practical steps are soon taken.”
Iran rejected the warning and replied again that the three European agreement partners (E3) and the US for their part were not sticking to the deal. “We will (only) respond to deeds with deeds,” tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif on Thursday evening. “Instead of philosophizing and burdening Iran, the E3 should first honor its own commitments.”
Specifically, the leadership in Tehran is demanding that the Americans withdraw all sanctions against Iran in advance. Biden, in turn, has made it clear that he is not ready for this. After withdrawing from the agreement, the Trump administration imposed drastic sanctions on Tehran, which contributed to the worst economic crisis in recent Iranian history.
Concern about the possible development of nuclear weapons
The foreign ministers of the three European countries met in Paris on Thursday to agree on how to proceed with regard to Iran. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was switched on via video.
The four heads of ministries also expressed concern about the “recent measures by Iran to produce up to 20 percent enriched uranium and uranium metal”. There is no credible civil justification for these steps, the ministers said in a joint statement. “The production of uranium metal is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.”
After the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, Iran began enriching uranium and producing uranium metal, is now working with faster centrifuges and is storing far more uranium than permitted.