World Iran, Russia show united front against West on nuclear deal
Iran talks set up delicate dance for Biden team
The Biden administration is moving forward on steps to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, with officials set to participate in high level discussions with signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna next week. The U.S. and Iran are not expected to meet face to face, although administration officials have said they remain open to direct talks. The Vienna meeting marks the most forward movement for the Biden team, which will engage with European, Russian and Chinese counterparts over what steps the U.S. can take to achieve a "mutual return" for both America and Iran.
Russia put on a united front with Iran against the United States and Europe Tuesday amid talks in Vienna on bringing Washington back into a troubled 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran and the remaining parties to the deal have been discussing how to lift US sanctions on Iran that then president Donald Trump reimposed when he quit the deal in 2018, and bring Iran back into compliance with nuclear commitments it suspended in retaliation for the US withdrawal.
Iran Upgrading Its Uranium Enrichment While U.S. Begins Talks to Reenter Nuclear Accord
Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 agreement in 2018.Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018, after which Iran began violating terms of the agreement in response to new sanctions the U.S. imposed.
"We are counting on the fact that we will be able to save the agreement and that Washington will finally return to full and complete implementation of the corresponding UN resolution," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif after talks in Tehran.
Lavrov also blasted the European Union for slapping sanctions on eight Iranian security officials, saying that the blacklisting threatens current efforts to restore the deal.
"There is no coordination at the EU. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," he said.
He stressed that "if this decision was taken voluntarily in the midst of negotiations in Vienna to save (the deal), then it is no longer unfortunate, it is a mistake worse than a crime".
Does Iran even need spies in academia?
A number of American academics long have done Iran’s public messaging free of charge. After his arrest, Afrasiabi's alleged handlers at Iran's United Nations Mission defended him by invoking his credentials, insisting that "Dr. Afrasiabi has not been working as an agent of the Mission, and only as a university professor and an expert on international relations." The two aren't mutually exclusive.
In response to EU sanctions, Iran said Monday it is suspending cooperation with Europe on various fields including "terrorism, drug (trafficking) and refugees".
Zarif warned the US that it would gain no extra leverage in Vienna through "acts of sabotage" and sanctions.
He also blasted Israel, which Iran has accused of being behind a Sunday sabotage attack on its Natanz uranium enrichment facility, of having made a "very bad gamble".
"We have no problem with returning to implementing our JCPOA commitments," Zarif said using the formal acronym for the nuclear deal.
"But the Americans should know that neither sanctions nor acts of sabotage will give them negotiation tools and these acts will only make the situation more difficult for them."
Iran on Monday charged that its arch-enemy Israel had sabotaged its Natanz enrichment plant and vowed it would take "revenge" and ramp up its nuclear activities.
How Republicans Can Stop Biden from Lifting Iran Sanctions
Instead of diluting their principles, congressional Republicans should use every available procedural tool to force tough votes. Finally, Republicans should make clear that they will swiftly reimpose any sanctions relief provided to Iran by the Biden administration if they retake control of Congress in 2022 or the White House in 2024. Representative Mike Gallagher (R.,Wisc.) and Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) introduced resolutions in the House and Senate opposing any lifting of Iran sanctions.
- 'Very bad gamble' -
Israel did not claim responsibility for the sabotage, but unsourced media reports in the country attributed it to the Israeli security services carrying out a "cyber operation".
The New York Times, quoting unnamed US and Israeli intelligence officials, also said there had been "an Israeli role" in the attack in which an explosion had "completely destroyed" the power system that fed the plant's "underground centrifuges".
The White House said Monday that the US "was not involved in any manner".
Zarif warned: "If (Israel) thought that they can stop Iran from following up on lifting sanctions from the Iranian people, then they made a very bad gamble.
"What they did in Natanz, they thought it would reduce Iran's leverage" in the talks in Vienna.
"But it makes it possible for Iran to legally, legitimately, and in order to make up for this terrorist stupidity, use any capacity it has at Natanz."
Zarif said Iran would make the enrichment plant "more powerful" by using advanced centrifuges.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said Monday that the centrifuges hit by the power blackout were first-generation ones, not more advanced models banned under the nuclear deal.
The Natanz episode, the latest in a string of incidents hitting Iran's nuclear programme, came days after the Vienna talks opened.
US President Joe Biden has indicated he wants to revive the agreement, something Israel strongly opposes, arguing that it had succeeded in sharply reducing Iran's nuclear activities.
But for now the deal remains in limbo with neither Tehran nor Washington backing down from their positions.
Iran demands that Washington lift sanctions in exchange for its return to full compliance with commitments it has suspended, while the US demands that Tehran return to its obligations before the sanctions are lifted.
Biden can make history on nuclear arms reductions .
Rescuing the best aspects of Obama’s nuclear policies is a worthy undertaking, but President Biden can and must go further. A good place to start would be by revisiting the Pentagon's costly and unnecessary nuclear weapons modernization plan. As part of that effort, he should cancel the plan to spend $264 billion to develop, build and operate a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).Canceling the new ICBM would be good politics as well as good policy.