The Biden administration is reportedly considering lifting sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader as part of a concessions package to restore a landmark 2015 Iranian nuclear development agreement, reports NBC News.
Sources told the news organization that Biden administration negotiators are in “indirect” talks in Vienna, Austria, with Iranian negotiators to lift the 2019 “broad sanctions” against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as part of a compromise to re-enter the Obama era deal.
Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal, implemented in October 2015, was supposed to prevent Iran from using nuclear material for weapons.
“Under the nuclear deal that we, our allies, and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb. The region, the United States, and the world will be more secure,” Obama said in January 2016.
“As I have said many times, the nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all of our differences with Iran. But still, engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis, for the first time in decades, has created a unique opportunity -- a window -- to try to resolve important issues. “
President Donald Trump disagreed with the policy and unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018, restoring nuclear sanctions against Iran and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that prevented him, or officials appointed by him, to travel to the U.S. It also banned him from having financial transactions with American companies.
Biden’s administration has been renegotiating the deal since he took office in January.
"I think that's definitely an Iranian demand," Vali Nasr, professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies who worked as a diplomat in the Obama administration told NBC. "And I think the U.S. is open to it."
According to the report, the sanctions do not have an impact on the Iranian economy or the state’s nuclear program but is seen in Tehran as being an unjustified measure against the nation’s most powerful leader.
Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group think tank told NBC that lifting the sanctions could go a long way to give the U.S. credibility and restore Iranian trust to move the negotiations to re-enter the nuclear deal forward.
"At the end of the day, what is a more significant priority — curbing Iran's nuclear program or imposing sanctions that in practice have almost no impact?" Vaez said.
According top the report, the move could have a negative effect by making it appear that Biden is caving into the demands of the dangerous rogue state.
"We still have serious differences with Iran regarding returning to mutual compliance with the JCPOA. Our teams are going back for a seventh round of indirect negotiations in the coming days," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday. "We'll see if we can bridge the differences, but they're real, and we have to be able to bridge them."
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