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  • the Europeans launched the original nuclear deal.

  • So it was fitting today that UK, French and German foreign ministers met the new U.

  • S.

  • Secretary of state virtually in an attempt to revive it.

  • We're obviously concerned about the risk of further non compliance firearm with J C P o A.

  • The nuclear deal.

  • All the more reason to reinvigorate the transatlantic diplomacy, which is why I've been here with my French and German colleagues but also speaking to Tony Blinken in the US and making sure we chart a way forward on look to find a way to reengage diplomatically in order Thio restrain Iran but also bring it back into compliance with its nuclear obligations.

  • There's a big element of deja vu to this familiar issues and faces, and the deal signed in 2015 meant also overcoming barriers of distrust and sidelining hardliners on both sides.

  • What's more, key people who made possible the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or J.

  • C.

  • P o.

  • A.

  • R.

  • Now running President Biden's foreign policy?

  • I think President Biden definitely wants to revive the nuclear deal, and it's interesting that two of his most senior officials, Jake Sullivan, who's the national security adviser Bill Birnes, the new director of the CIA, are the two officials who, under the Obama administration, were most directly involved in the original negotiations leading up to the J.

  • C P o.

  • A agreement in 2015.

  • So they know a lot about this, uh, ill on.

  • They know a lot about talking Thio Iran.

  • But the world has changed since 2015.

  • President Trump walked away from the nuclear deal on ramped up sanctions against Iran.

  • For its part, the Islamic Republic has broken out of the agreement and even now is threatening to go further with its nuclear program in Washington.

  • There remains strong political opposition in certain circles to the original deal formed in 2015.

  • And that remains and needs to be contended with in Tehran, obviously an upcoming presidential election of their own in June, which constrains the current Iranian president from a clean return but also makes the question of whether, when and how to return and even more heated political issue in Tehran's politics as well.

  • In the Gulf itself, multiple missile attacks by Iranian proxies on Saudi targets in recent years underline another element of this Thea knees felt by U.

  • S allies, the Gulf states and Israel about any new diplomatic opening to Iran.

  • President Biden will have to set aside those worries, at least temporarily, in order to get the J.

  • C p o a running again.

  • I think perhaps a two stage process is more realistic.

  • So one has a sort of minimal resumption off the J.

  • C P away, reversing the Iranian breaches of the deal, which is quite possible.

  • A reversion off the taking back the sanctions that Donald Trump pose, perhaps in a phased way on then, perhaps separately, with a different cast of players to discuss things like Iran's regional role.

  • If the diplomatic appeal of returning to the nuclear deal suits the West, does Iran see its value to it?

  • Exerts more regional power than it used to on its supreme leader doesn't sound too convinced of the value of fresh deals with the U.

  • S.

  • A.

  • Earlier this week, a rocket attack on a coalition base in northern Iraq killed an American officer.

  • Thes types of incident present a constant danger of flare ups and escalation, and ultimately it may be the desire to contain these that provides the best rationale for fresh diplomacy.

  • What I think also was learned from the Trump administration is that not having the nuclear deal certainly didn't de escalate tensions in the region and in fact, in many cases escalated it quite severely, such that Iran's choices and decisions in terms of its foreign policy in the region on Lee presented Mawr and Mawr aggressive a threat to its immediate neighbors.

  • So the restart of this process may feel like a familiar story, complete with some of the same leading characters.

  • But the geopolitics have changed, and it will not be long before we see whether that also reshapes the diplomacy.

  • I'm joined now from the U.

  • S.

  • By Barbara Slavin, director of the Future Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council think tank on Olive Aya's Iran Project director at the International Crisis Group.

  • He's a former U.

  • N.

  • Official who helped cement the 2015 nuclear deal at Barbara.

  • If I may start with you, the U.

  • S.

  • Has said this evening, this is an opportunity for diplomacy after years because of the new administration.

  • What is your reading of that?

  • I'm very encouraged, frankly, by the news that's coming out that the United States would be willing to attend a meeting of the joint commission, which implements the nuclear deal.

  • This would give the United States and opportunity not only to consult with European allies, the Russians and the Chinese, but to sit down and talk directly to the Iranians.

  • We've seen a lot of shadow boxing, I think, over the last couple of weeks, while the United States does its consultations, gets it's ideas in order.

  • And I think now we're ready to begin the diplomacy again.

  • So today is a very good day, I think.

  • Alan, what's your reading on this?

  • Because, of course, you gotta have it on both sides.

  • And Iran's foreign ministers tweeted this evening that the West must demand an end to Trump's legacy of economic terrorism against Iran.

  • Just to paraphrase that, do you think that there is that appetite?

  • Look, I think the Iranians would see the signals from the U.

  • S.

  • As positive but insufficient, insufficient in the sense that what they care about the most sanctions relief on at this stage, it appears that the Biden administration is not really considering providing Iran with any kind of economic reprieve on you know, the primary motivator on the Iranian side is not that they have an election coming up or is not that they have, you know, are in middle of fighting with the cove.

  • It pandemic as one of the worst hit countries in the region.

  • But it's a matter of principle, you know, they had to deal with the U.

  • S and P five plus one world powers that the US reneged on on def.

  • Now they agree to any kind of return to the diplomatic table without any kind of mere Copa or regret from the U.

  • S.

  • Side on.

  • If they agree to any additional concessions based on the sanctions that Trump Administration imposed it, they are afraid it will teach a very bad lesson to the U.

  • S.

  • That basically Iran responds to pressure and sanctions on.

  • Then this would be a slippery slope of unending US demands.

  • So what is the way back for you?

  • Do you think, having just outlined that position so basically there is a need without any doubt for the us to freeze this process of escalation that we're in because the Iranians, based on the legislation that the Iranian Parliament passed after their top nuclear scientist was assassinated last year will reduce the access of U.

  • N inspectors to Iran's nuclear facilities as of next Tuesday.

  • On this process of escalation will continue because Iran's nuclear program is now growing by the day.

  • So we need to freeze this process and again, the Onley card that the US will play that would get Iran's attention is some economic reprieve on Then both sides would have to get back to the negotiating table, which could very well be the joint commission of the nuclear deal where all the stakeholders sit at the table and discuss a timetable for mutual return into compliance, which I'm hoping would happen before the next Iranian president comes to office in August.

  • That is also a key day as you bring up Barbara saving to bring you back into this.

  • The Biden administration seems less close to Israel.

  • Do you think that gives Biden more freedom to maneuver?

  • Yeah, I think it does.

  • I think that the bite administration is not only shown a certain independence from the Israelis, but is also noticeably less warm towards towards Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which of the other countries that have been ambivalent, to say the least about the return to the nuclear agreement.

  • So I think, you know, Joe Biden is showing a lot of independence.

  • He's also showing that he can't be pushed around by the Iranians with artificial deadlines.

  • I mean, with all due respect to Ali, Yes, Parliament passed legislation, but Parliament is not in charge.

  • The supreme leader of the country is in charge, and if he sees signs that the United States is indeed willing toe lift the sanctions, Hey can pause this move out of the joint comprehensive plan of action.

  • One other bit of news tonight the United States is apparently formally withdrawn the Trump Administration's efforts to quote unquote snapback U N sanctions on Iran.

  • This was a failed attempt last year, but now the US has formally rescinded this.

  • There are a number of signals, I think, that are being sent to Iran, and hopefully this meeting of the joint Commission can happen sooner rather than later.

  • And then we can get back to the business of sequencing a mutual return to compliance with the deal.

  • Ali.

  • Give us an insight into Robert Malley, Biden's new Iran envoy.

  • You know him you've worked alongside.

  • What do you think his approach will be?

  • Look, robs approach would be the Biden administration's approach, not necessarily the the approach that we advocated at Crisis Group, which was a swift and clean return to the J c p o A.

  • I think the problem that the Biden administration is now facing is very strong political resistance in Congress towards lifting the sanctions, Uh, just to return to the original agreement.

  • But at the same time, as I said, the Iranians would not agree to anything other than return to the original agreement on I think you know, I've seen this movie before.

  • These seemingly unbridgeable gaps between the two sides could be bridged because at the end of the day, both want the same thing.

  • Both understand that J.

  • C.

  • P O.

  • Is in their interest on that.

  • Without the J.

  • C.

  • P o.

  • A.

  • There would be really very difficult to imagine any kind of diplomacy to address other issues of disagreement.

  • Beit Iran's ballistic missile program or its regional activities.

  • Eso Eventually, I think there is a way, a creative way that they can find to synchronize their their actions and return to the J.

  • C p o.

  • A.

  • In a coordinated and staggered fashion.

  • But the first step is to get to the negotiating table.

  • And although I think these signals that Barbara mentioned from the U.

  • S.

  • Are positive, but the only thing that gets Iran's attention is some kind of economic reprieve, Barbara, do you think that the just thinking about it from the Americans point of view?

  • How does Joe Biden do this while not losing face but also trusting that Iran will keep their side of the deal with regards to nuclear weapons?

  • I don't think Joe Biden will lose face.

  • He has a rather good popularity ratings right now, mostly because of his handling of the co vid crisis, the economic crisis, and most Americans, frankly, are fairly disengaged from foreign policy.

  • Hey, has a lot of leeway.

  • Congress cannot prevent him from returning to the original deal, although it would have to say, perhaps on some sort of follow on agreement.

  • So again, I don't think this is going to be hard.

  • One suggestion that Ali and the Crisis Group has made is that the United States signal that it would have no formal objection to Iran, obtaining a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund for Covic Relief Ah, signal like that.

  • Or signaling to the South Koreans that they can release frozen oil revenues of Iran's in South Korean banks.

  • These would be concrete steps that the U.

  • S.

  • Could take.

  • So again, I, you know, it's taken a little while.

  • A lot of people are impatient, but Joe Biden has only been president for not even a month.

  • And I think we're going to get there.

  • Just a word on the people of Iran on you mentioned there, the impact of covert but also the impact of the economic sanctions.

  • Terrible, absolutely terrible.

  • Just directing that.

  • Also, Barbara, your view.

  • Welcome as well.

  • But Ali to you, what would you say on that as well?

  • Look, the Iranian people are stuck between a government in Iran that doesn't really care about them enough or mismanages the economy or has not been able to really tackle the pandemic in an appropriate way on a an uncaring United States during the Trump Administration s.

  • So I think it is fundamentally important for the Biden administration to demonstrate that it is adopting a very different approach from the maximum pressure policy that Trump pursued and the signals that it has sent today are positive.

  • But again, as I said there insufficient, the reality is that the biggest victims of maximum pressure have been the Iranian people.

  • It hasn't really weakened Iranian regime or the leadership.

  • The price has been paid by the Iranians on they would welcome a return to normalcy.

the Europeans launched the original nuclear deal.

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Can the 2015 Iran nuclear deal be saved? - BBC Newsnight

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/19
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