Report: Biden Seeking Direct Dialogue With Iran
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
(January 25, 2021) — On Monday, an anonymous US official close to the Biden administration told Sky News Arabia that President Biden is seeking direct talks with Iran and is pursuing that dialogue through European mediators.
Also on Monday, Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi told NBC News that Iran has not spoken to the new administration. “No, there has not been any conversation between Iran and the US after Biden came into office.”
When asked if Iran was planning to open up a direct dialogue with the US or through intermediaries, Ravanchi said Iran is “not planning to initiate anything.”
The reports come a day after President Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron. During a phone call on Sunday, the two leaders discussed the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
France and other European signatories to the JCPOA made some effort to preserve the deal after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018, although it was never enough to offset the cost of US sanctions to Iran.
The source that spoke with Sky News also said that the Biden administration’s approach to Iran will be accompanied by contacts with regional US allies, like Israel and the Gulf states. Israel and Gulf states Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, have all spoken out against the idea of Biden reviving the JCPOA.
A report from Israel’s Channel 12 Newsthat came out Saturday said Israel’s Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is set to meet with President Biden next month to discuss the JCPOA. Cohen is expected to lay out Israel’s expectations for Biden’s Iran strategy.
So far, neither President Biden nor his cabinet members have made public comments on Iran that make it clear what the administration is planning. While on the campaign trail, Biden said he would work with Iran to revive the JCPOA and negotiate a stricter follow-on agreement on top of it.
Iran, on the other hand, has made its stance very clear. Writing in Foreign Affairs last week, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called on President Biden to lift sanctions on Iran if he was serious about salvaging the JCPOA. Zarif said Iran would quickly come into compliance with the deal once sanctions were lifted.
Israelis Say They Will Attack Iran If US Returns to Nuclear Deal
Earlier This Month, a Likud Minister Threatened to Attack Iran if Biden Revives the JCPOA
(January 25, 2021) — Israeli officials have made their opposition to the Biden administration returning to the Iran nuclear deal known. Some have even threatened a military strike on Iran if President Biden revives the deal, known as the JCPOA.
An Israeli source affirmed this to Breaking Defense in an article published on Monday. “Israel needs to know — and fast — whether Washington plans to stop Iran’s race to the bomb or take some action to do this,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The source said that Israeli intelligence is monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities closely. Israeli airstrikes on Syria were also mentioned, which have ramped up in recent months. “This pressure will continue and grow, as a preparation for a direct attack on targets in Iran,” the source said of airstrikes in Syria.
Israel always claims its airstrikes in Syria hit Iranian targets, but they usually strike Shia militias. Last week, an Israeli airstrike hit Syria that reportedly killed four civilians and destroyed three houses.
Earlier this month, Tzachi Hanegbi, an Israeli minister from the Likud party, made the most direct public threat against Iran. Hanegbi said that if the US returns to the JCPOA that “Israel will again be alone against Iran” and will attack Iran’s nuclear program.
Breaking Defense, its source, and Haneegbi all push the narrative that Iran is racing towards a bomb when that is not the case. One example they use is the fact that Iran recently increased uranium enrichment to 20 percent, which is still vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade uranium.
Despite the hype, the 20 percent enrichment has a civilian purpose. It allows Iran to make fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor, a facility that was built by the US in the 1960s that can produce medical isotopes.
Another crucial piece of context left out of the Breaking Defense article is the reason why Iran started enriching uranium at 20 percent. Iran’s parliament passed a bill to increase enrichment after the November assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the prominent Iranian scientist who was killed in an apparent Israeli plot. So it was Israeli aggression that led to the increased enrichment.
Iran has maintained that it is willing to return to compliance with the JCPOA if the Biden administration lifts sanctions. Any more attacks from Israel could prevent Iran from decreasing enrichment levels.
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