Iran has made the biggest overture yet in terms of signaling the incoming Biden administration that it’s willing to work for a full return of US participation in the 2015 nuclear deal, or JCPOA. This would of course require that the Islamic Republic comes back into compliance with uranium enrichment caps and other stipulations involving advanced centrifuge numbers.
The Guardian reports that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said expressly that should the United States return to the deal, Iran would “follow within an hour”. Biden has long said he stands ready to bring the US back in despite Trump’s trying to box him in by heaping daily sanctions onto Iran’s already unprecedented economic isolation.
“Iran would return to compliance with the nuclear deal within an hour of the US doing so, its president said – but he faced further pressure from the outgoing Trump administration after it sanctioned two Iranian officials over their alleged involvement in the abduction of a former FBI agent,” said The Guardian.
“Hassan Rouhani also made clear he was not prepared to discuss any changes to the deal, or any constraints on Iran’s ballistic missile program,” the report added.
He made the comments simultaneous to fresh sanctions being slapped on officials of the Islamic Republic by the outgoing Trump administration, which has promised to keep up ‘max pressure’ right until inauguration day.
In announcing the sanctions the US Treasury blamed Iran for the disappearance and presumed death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who was last seen on Iran’s Kish island in 2007. Iranian state media has long indicated he was a spy seeking to gain information in Iranian territory. This is the first time such a high level formal accusation from the US government has been leveled in the Levinson case.
The U.S. government is for the first time formally blaming Iran for the presumed death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. https://t.co/35beUyh4tC
— ABC News (@ABC) December 14, 2020
The two intelligence officials sanctioned Monday have been blamed for overseeing Levinson’s kidnapping and detention.
“The government of Iran pledged to provide assistance in bringing [Robert] Levinson home, but it has never followed through. The truth is that Iranian intelligence officers – with the approval of senior Iranian officials – were involved in Bob’s abduction and detention,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
It’s widely believed that one of the first major foreign policy acts of the Biden presidency will be to restore US participation in the JCPOA, which will necessitate the dropping of all sanctions. Trump pulled the US out of it all the way back in May of 2018.