The Biden administration and Iran appear to be getting closer to an informal deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Middle East correspondent Tara Kenkhuis is hopeful. “Although they are not talking directly to each other, there are hopeful signs.
The Iranian and U.S. governments have been holding indirect talks for months, and this could potentially mark a turning point in the U.S.-Iranian relationship. In 2015, Iran, the United States, Russia and the EU struck a deal in which Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond just under 4 percent. In 2018, former President Donald Trump stepped out of the agreement, meaning Iran also no longer felt the need to comply. Currently, Iran is already enriching uranium to about 60 percent, while about 90 percent is needed to build nuclear weapons.
Not much is yet known about the content of the deal. ‘There is no official communication about it yet. In fact, official communication denies the existence of this deal,’ says Kenkhuis.
She continues: ‘What we do know is that the verbal agreement stipulates that Iran will not enrich uranium beyond 60 percent so that they do not reach the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon. In addition, Iran would have to stop attacks on American soldiers and mercenaries in Syria and Iraq, cooperate more with international nuclear inspections and stop selling missiles to Russia.’
In return, the U.S. would no longer impose new sanctions. Iran would also be allowed to operate its oil tankers freely and the US would have to stop issuing motions against Iran in the UN Security Council. It is also important for Iran and the Iranian economy that the billions of dollars currently tied up because of U.S. sanctions be released.
How likely a deal is, Kenkhuis finds it difficult to say. ‘But several countries – Israel, Iran and U.S. officials – have said these talks are underway. The talks are taking place in Oman, where the Americans are staying in one hotel and Iran in another. They are not talking directly to each other, but there are hopeful signs,” the correspondent said.
Namely: ‘Last week, the US Secretary of State released 2.8 billion that Iraq can pay to Iran. This can be seen as a kind of first sign. In addition, Iran’s senior leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said last Wednesday that he is also open to some negotiation, as long as the nuclear infrastructure remains intact. So there are small signs on the horizon that we can be hopeful.
The talk of an “informal” deal has a reason, according to Kenkhuis. ‘They call it informal because it will not be put on paper. That’s especially more convenient for the U.S. because then the deal doesn’t have to be approved by Congress.
About the author: Rick Culpepper
Rick Culpepper is of those journalists who dig the topic to the very bottom. He is often late with the delivery of the piece, but always does it perfectly. In his spare time, he collects data for one of the most high-profile investigations of corruption in the EU.