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US should take ‘step-by-step’ approach to rejoining JCPOA before talks fail: Expert

Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria, on November 29, 2021. (File photo by Reuters)

The administration of US President Joe Biden should take a "step-by-step" approach to rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the so-called US maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic has failed and the Vienna talks aimed at removing anti-Tehran sanctions could collapse if some significant progress were not made, says a senior political expert and university lecturer.

Frank von Hippel, former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, made the comment in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday as the eighth round of talks on lifting the US-imposed sanctions on Iran paused in the Austrian capital.

Hippel, who is also a professor of Public and International Affairs in Princeton University, fully agreed with US State Department spokesman Ned Price, who said in a Tuesday news briefing that the previous US administration had left behind a “terrible set of options,” including its escalations toward the Islamic Republic and that the maximum pressure campaign had been an “abject failure.”

“I agree completely with what Ned Price said,” Hippel told Press TV. “I hope that it reflects that the Biden administration is now together in this view, and I hope that Iran’s government is similarly focused on getting both countries back into compliance.”

The senior political expert said the Biden administration had to make sure that it does not lose any JCPOA supporters in Congress before rejoining the landmark deal as “only a small minority in Congress are eager to start a war with Iran,” and that the US can make it, “but perhaps most easily in a step-by-step process.”

“Some significant progress must be made soon, or the negotiations will collapse,” Hippel said in reference to the Vienna talks, adding that there should be a “step-by-step process in returning both sides to full compliance with the JCPOA” as well as pursuing the nuclear disarmament of nuclear-armed states and fulfilling their commitments under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran and the remaining participants to the JCPOA have been holding talks in Vienna since April last year with the aim of reviving the deal by bringing the US into full compliance.

The eighth round of talks between Tehran and the remaining signatories to the 2015 Iran deal had been focused on the removal of anti-Tehran sanctions.

The US left the JCPOA in May 2018 under former President Donald Trump. The Vienna talks began on a promise by Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, to rejoin the deal and repeal the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran.

In a Friday phone call with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian described the talks in Vienna as positive.

Expressing Tehran’s deep distrust of US rulers, Amir-Abdollahian underscored the need for Washington and its European allies to take practical and tangible measures in order to reach a sustainable and reliable agreement.

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