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Restoration of sanctions waivers by US of little consequence to Iranians

File photo of Iran Vienna talks.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has provided some sanctions relief to the countries that had nuclear cooperation with Iran under the terms of the 2015 multilateral agreement.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers related to the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the JCPOA, on Friday.

Meanwhile, a prominent US Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, has vociferously shown his opposition to the deal, saying that “we cannot allow Iran to continue building its nuclear capacity”.

The waiver covered the conversion of the Arak heavy water reactor and included the provision of enriched uranium for the Iranian research reactor in Tehran as well as the transfer of spent and scrap reactor fuel abroad.

The exemptions allow foreign companies to resume cooperation from where they left Iranian nuclear projects. The waivers are part of the 2015 accord. They were cancelled by former US President Donald Trump after he unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and unlawfully re imposed anti Iran sanctions.

The latest US move reverses the Trump administration's decision and lifts the threat of sanctions against foreign countries especially companies from Russia, China and Europe that had been cooperating with Iran under the terms of the JCPOA.

According to reports in the media, the US State Department report at this step is meant to facilitate the Vienna talks on the revival of the agreement.

Meanwhile, the waiver announcement prompted the hawks in Washington to accuse the Biden administration of giving concessions without securing any commitments from Iran.

Senator Bob Menendez has asked that the President adopt a tougher position on Iran. He called for new efforts including creative diplomatic initiatives, stricter sanctions enforcement and determination from Congress to support President Biden's declaration that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on his watch, something that Iran has repeatedly denied seeking.

In addition, these waivers will not entail financial relief to Iran. So there remains a strong case for upfront humanitarian relief as it is the people of Iran who have suffered the most under US sanctions.

Iran and the remaining signatories to the JCPOA are set to resume talks in Vienna with Iran adamant that an agreement hinges on the removal of US sanctions and guarantees that Washington won't pull out of the deal again.

Iran says there have been positive developments in the JCPOA revival talks in Vienna, but they do not fulfill Tehran's expectations.

Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Ami Abdollahian, says the 2015 nuclear deal hasn't had any economic benefits for Iran in recent years.

Amir-Abdollahian says Tehran is firmly and explicitly seeking a good deal that would guarantee Iran's economic benefits reliably and sustainably.

I think this is a symbolic act. So I think the Joe Biden administration can do better than that ... by starting to lift all the sanctions on the frozen, huge amount of money, we are talking about tens of billions of dollars frozen in foreign banks that belong to Iran, and that will be a positive step, not a symbolic step.

Elijah Magnier, Journalist and Political Commentator

One day after the administration of US President Joe Biden restored a sanctions waiver, which had been rescinded by his predecessor Donald J Trump In May 2020, the Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said Washington must show goodwill on the ground, not just on paper.

He also said Iran demanded guarantees at all political, legal and economic levels.

Agreements have been reached in some areas, but the Iranian negotiating team will seriously pursue the attainment of tangible guarantees from the Western parties to the deal, guarantees that they will abide by their commitments under a possible Vienna deal.

That's in reaction to recent comments by the US special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, who has said that Washington cannot guarantee the next administration's adherence to the JCPOA.

Iran has time and again stated that one of its main issues is abtaining the necessary guarantees from the other parties, especially from the West, in the Vienna talks,

There is no guarantee for Iran that even Joe Biden, after the signature of this deal that is going to be signed or would be signed soon, perhaps in the next couple of months, is going to be respected.

There are no guarantees that the US is going to respect the deal, and certainly no guarantee that the next administration will abide by.

Elijah Magnier, Journalist and Political Commentator

Iranian security official, Ali Shamkhani, says real, effective, and verifiable economic benefits for Iran are necessary in order to reach an agreement in Vienna, Shamkhani stressed that making pretence of lifting sanctions is anything but constructive.

He added that Iran has the legal right to continue developing peaceful nuclear technology. His comments came as Iran is now awaiting a political decision by the US and European countries for a breakthrough in the sanctions revival talks in Vienna.


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