Blinken discusses Iran deal with UK, French, German ministers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff at the US State Department during the first visit of US President Joe Biden (L) in Washington, DC, February 4, 2021. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed Iran with his British, French and German counterparts as they seek to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

"We just had a in-depth and important conversation on Iran ... to handle together nuclear and regional security challenges," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Twitter on Friday.

The new administration of President Joe Biden is trying to explore how to restore the nuclear deal, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 between Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — and ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

However, the US under former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018, reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions, and targeted the Islamic nation with a brutal economic embargo which the Trump White House called “maximum pressure” campaign.

The fate of the JCPOA is now hanging in the balance after the European co-signatories — France, Britain and Germany — failed to counter the sanctions as required by the agreement, prompting Tehran to suspend parts of its commitments in retaliation.

Biden has pledged to rejoin the multilateral accord if Iran returns to compliance.

Iran, however, says it is Washington that should take the first step by lifting the sanctions and then Tehran will return to its commitments enshrined in the nuclear pact.

'We're working in lockstep with our European partners'

On Friday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment on the substance of Blinken’s virtual meeting with his British, French and German counterparts but said Washington wanted "to make sure that we are working in lockstep with our European partners" on Iran.

An American official also said the meeting between Blinken, Le Drian, Britain's Dominic Raab and Germany's Heiko Maas would also cover the coronavirus pandemic, Russia, China, Myanmar and climate.

The National Security Council convened a meeting on Friday which was attended by top US officials.

"The meeting today is part of an ongoing policy review. It is not decisional," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Twitter.

Robert Malley, new US special envoy for Iran, said on Tuesday that Washington seeks to remove the so-called "maximum pressure" campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Malley told the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera that conferring on a broader agreement would be on the agenda only after returning to JCPOA.

The US envoy also claimed that the Biden government will remove the maximum pressure on Iran and strives to put pressure on Tehran through diplomacy.

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