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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Biden to focus on Iran deal re-entry in early calls with US allies

Reviving nuclear deal will be a major point in the president’s calls to foreign leaders

President Joe Biden plans to focus on co-ordinating a plan to revive the ailing Iran nuclear deal as part of his early talks with foreign leaders.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in her first press briefing on Wednesday that Mr Biden would discuss a conditional US re-entry to the deal as part of his first round of phone calls with foreign leaders, including close American allies.

“Iran must resume compliance with significant nuclear constraints under the deal in order for that to proceed,” Ms Psaki said. “We would expect that some of his earlier conversations with foreign counterparts and foreign leaders will be with partners and allies and that we would certainly anticipate that this would be part of the discussion.”

Ms Psaki reiterated that “the president has made clear that he believes through follow-on diplomacy, the United States should seek to lengthen and strengthen nuclear constraints on Iran and address other concerns”.

The Iran deal discussions would be part of a broader set of calls the president will make in an attempt to repair relations with close US allies after a tenuous relationship with the Trump administration.

US re-entry to the deal would require Mr Biden to lift the sanctions regime imposed by former president Donald Trump.

But Mr Biden and his advisers have repeatedly emphasised that Washington will not lift the sanctions until Iran complies with its end of the bargain.

National Intelligence director Avril Haines and Antony Blinken, Mr Biden’s nominee to serve as secretary of state, told the Senate on Tuesday that they expect there will be “a long way” to go before Iran returns to compliance with the accord, negotiated by former president Barack Obama.

Mr Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018, reinstating Obama-era sanctions and adding more penalties on Iran. Tehran, in turn, went on to breach major parts of the deal.

These breaches include resuming uranium enrichment at 20 per cent purity, increasing Tehran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile by 12 times the amount allowed under the accord, and testing advanced centrifuges.

Updated: January 21, 2021 08:32 AM

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