Updated: 06/27/2021 12:09 PM IS
Washington [US]June 27 (ANI): The Biden government is considering lifting sanctions against Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as part of negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
According to NBC News, the information was disclosed by a former US official and two people familiar with the matter. The US and Iranian negotiators have discussed the possible move in indirect talks in Vienna as part of a broader compromise package that would result in the United States reverting to the 2015 pact and Iran re-adhering to restrictions on its nuclear program, they said the sources, reported The Frontier Post.
“I think this is definitely an Iranian request,” said Vali Nasr, professor of international affairs and Middle East studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, who served as a diplomat in the Obama administration. “And I think the US is open to that.”
When asked about the option to lift sanctions against the Supreme Leader, a State Department spokesman told NBC News that “the exact nature and order of sanction-related steps the United States would need to take to ensure reciprocal return to JCPOA compliance.” to achieve “goals is the subject of discussions.”
The spokesman added, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
Meanwhile, Iranian President Rohani’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted in Iranian media as saying the US had already agreed to lift sanctions against some Iranian executives, but US officials denied it, The Frontier Post reported.
Asked about the lifting of sanctions against the Supreme Leader in a briefing with reporters, a senior State Department official on Thursday left the door open for the move but said nothing had been agreed upon.
“We are still working on all of these issues, and that includes the sanctions you mentioned,” said the official.
In June 2019, after the shooting down of a U.S. drone by Iranian forces, former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and U.S. corporate officials appointed by him, The Frontier Post reported.
Lifting sanctions against the supreme leader could help the Biden government convince Tehran to make several difficult compromises in the negotiations, said Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group think tank.
“What is a more important priority at the end of the day – contain Iran’s nuclear program or impose sanctions that have almost no effect in practice?” said Vaez.
The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), introduced restrictions on uranium enrichment and other nuclear operations by Iran in return for easing economic sanctions.
Former President Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 on the grounds that it was skewed in favor of Iran and imposed a series of sanctions that have severely damaged the Iranian economy.
The Biden government says the US is ready to revert to the deal if Iran once again respects nuclear restrictions. After six rounds of negotiations in Vienna, both sides say they have made progress but important issues remain to be resolved, The Frontier Post reported.
“We still have serious differences with Iran regarding the return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA. Our teams will return to a seventh round of indirect negotiations in the coming days,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Friday. “We’ll see if we can bridge the differences, but they are real and we have to be able to bridge them.”
The contours of a possible deal have emerged and it is becoming increasingly clear that both sides will have to sacrifice some of their original demands and goals, according to former US officials and Western diplomats, The Frontier Post reported.
Despite Iranian appeals, US officials have hinted that some sanctions imposed by the previous administration will remain in place if they are inconsistent with the JCPOA.
Iran has also asked for a guarantee that the deal will not be abandoned by a future US president, but the Americans have hinted that such a guarantee is not possible in the US political system.
For its part, the Biden government has called for a commitment to hold follow-up talks to strengthen and expand the existing JCPOA, but Iran has virtually ruled that out, stating that they are only interested in extending the 2015 agreement, The Frontier Post reported .
With a new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, preparing to take office in Iran after this month’s elections, his allies in the regime will push for an agreement now or not at all, so outgoing President Hassan Rouhani is bound by it any concessions to the Americans, said Vaez.
“I have a strong feeling that the Iranian system now knows what it will take to close this deal and that it will require painful concessions,” said Vaez. (ANI)