The U.S. is reportedly nearing the final stage of negotiations with Iran, Biden Administration officials said Monday, Jan. 31. They seek to restore the 2015 agreement before Iran continues its nuclear activities and further asserted that time for this process is running out.
“We are in the final stretch,” an official told reporters on a conference call Monday, according to The Hill. “This can’t go on forever because of Iran’s nuclear advances,” he added.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, (U.S., Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France plus Germany) signed Obama’s 2015 agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to prevent Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
However, former President Donald Trump, announced on May 8, 2018, that he was withdrawing from this agreement and imposed strong economic sanctions on Iran.
Trump alleged that the agreement was not being complied with by the Iranian authorities, who in 2017 announced a 150% increase in their military budget to develop long-range missiles, armed drones and cyber warfare capabilities.
The former president sought to form a new, stricter nuclear deal, demanding that the Iranian regime not only halt its development of nuclear technology, but also its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorists and militias in the region, and all kinds of destabilizing activities. But Trump failed to materialize any new agreement.
Biden ordered the State Department to begin negotiations with Iran as soon as he took office. His administration has said it is committed to reviving the original deal, but diagrammed some alternative actions in case the Iranian regime does not accept them.
“Now is the time for political decisions,” the official said in communication with reporters. “Now is the time for Iran to decide whether it’s prepared to make those decisions necessary for a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA,” he added.
The Biden administration argues that the JCPOA is the best opportunity to immediately impose strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activity.
In that regard, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in early January, “We still believe that if we can get back in the weeks ahead — not months ahead, weeks ahead — to the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement, that would be the best thing for our security and the security of our allies and partners in the region.”
Meanwhile some critics of the agreement view the negotiations with concern.
In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said he fears Biden will “allow Iran to become the tenth member of the ‘Nuclear Club’ of nations, which would be a legacy that presidents are going to have to deal with for a long, long time after Joe Biden is gone,” according to Fox New.
“I mean, it’s bad enough to negotiate with terrorists. Essentially Joe Biden’s giving them a blank check and I think unfortunately where this is headed is, the Iranians are playing us,” Ratcliffe also warned.
He further stressed that the main adversaries, China and Russia, are negotiating with Iran, “and you don’t need to take my word for how badly things are going.”
On the other hand, he said “our biggest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is saying ‘Iran is playing you. They’re at breakout trying to finish getting to a nuclear weapon, and you need to go back to the Trump maximum pressure campaign,’ but I don’t think we’re going to do that in this administration.”