US, Europe focus on Iran nuclear program in G-20

US President Joe Biden will meet with EU leaders on Iran’s nuclear program on Saturday afternoon Rome time on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Italy, following Tehran’s announcement earlier this week that he is ready to resume negotiations before the end of November.

Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek agreement on the path to resuming negotiations for a return to the Common Comprehensive Plan of Action 2015, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. The so-called E3 + 1 format will focus on “shared concerns about the state of Iran’s nuclear program,” the White House said.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA deal in 2018. Biden said the United States will join him once Tehran fully complies with the restrictions in the arms development agreement. nuclear.

Saturday’s talks will be a “study in contrast to the previous administration, since Iran was one of the areas of deepest divergence between the previous administration and the Europeans,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Rome. Thusday.

“Here you will see Chancellor Merkel, President Macron, Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden all singing the same score on this issue,” he said.

However, during his first face-to-face meeting with these NATO allies, Biden will also need to allay lingering resentment over the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, which drove them to scramble to get their troops out. and their citizens as the Taliban took control of Kabul. Analysts say the allies are likely to pressure Biden to make a firm commitment to better coordination on Iran, which they did not believe was given on Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had ordered a full-scale review of the Afghan withdrawal. VOA on Thursday asked Senior Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre aboard Air Force One en route to Rome if the Afghanistan review announcement was planned ahead of Biden’s trip to the G- 20.

“I wouldn’t connect the two,” she said. “I don’t have much more to share on this.”

New sanctions

Ahead of the G-20 on Friday, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against two senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials and two affiliates for supplying deadly drones and related materiel to insurgent groups. in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Ethiopia.

With these sanctions, Biden is signaling that his administration still has leverage and tools to put pressure on Tehran, said Sanam Vakil, deputy chief of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

“Iran’s sponsorship of regional instability continues to be on Biden’s radar,” she said.

Iran quickly called the sanctions “totally contradictory behavior”.

“A government that talks about an intention to revert to the nuclear deal but continues Trump’s sanctions policy sends the message that it is truly unreliable,” Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said foreigners, Saeed Khatibzadeh, in comments published on the ministry’s website.

“Iran is upset but its options to retaliate are limited,” said Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute, who predicts that sanctions will not prevent Iran from returning to the table negotiations.

“He may refuse to resume talks in Vienna, but that will then increase the chances that Washington can better mobilize international opinion against Iran as the main spoiler preventing a breakthrough in nuclear talks.”

Analysts say Tehran is trying to avoid a scenario where the United States and Europe convince Russia and China that Iran’s nuclear program is too close to possible militarization.

“It is likely that Iran will return in part because the Europeans – whom Iran considers weaker than the United States – and Russia with whom Iran has concluded various agreements, want Iran to return Said James Jeffrey, president of the Middle East program at the Wilson Center.

Plan B

The United States and Israel have warned that they are exploring a Plan B if Tehran does not return in good faith to save the JCPOA.

“Time is running out,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Washington earlier this month. “We are prepared to look to other options if Iran does not change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of it.

However, analysts say the Biden administration is unlikely to use military options and not give the Israelis the green light to strike. Jeffrey said the United States was more likely to rely on a combination of new sanctions and a tougher stance on Iranian aggression in the region, as well as strategic ambiguity over the military response in the event of a ‘failed talks.

Although the Iranians don’t think Team Biden has a serious military plan B, Tehran cannot allow the nuclear standoff to go on indefinitely, Vatanka said.

“One way or another, both sides – the United States and Iran – must stop this escalating cycle,” he said.

VOA ‘Anita Powell contributed to this report.

About Georgia Duvall

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