Iran crisis: Joe Biden ‘booby-trapped’ by Trump’s hostile approach – nuclear deal on brink

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The 46th US President is under mounting pressure to diffuse tensions between the Washington and Tehran which were sparked by the hostile approach taken by the Trump administration. Diplomatic ties between the two global powers broke down after the US controversially pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear weapons programme in return for economic sanction relief.

World War 3 was also nearly triggered 12 months ago after the US military killed Iran’s top military officer in Iraq.

Iran has repeatedly urged the US to return to the agreement, but the Biden administration is seeking further assurances over Iran’s nuclear plans.

Dr Christian Emery, an expert on US-Iran relations and Persian Gulf security, explained Mr Biden has a series of hurdles to overcome to solve the nuclear deal.

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The University College London lecturer described the current status of JCPOA as being on “life-support”, but insisted the first six months on the Biden Presidency would be focusing on the pandemic rather than Iran.

Secondly, Dr Christian says Mr Biden must decide whether to peruse a “more ambitious” deal with Iran to cover wider issues linked to its ballistic missile programme, human rights and regional policies.

Dr Christian, who wrote the book ‘US Foreign Policy and the Iranian Revolution’, added the US Presidency would face “considerable political pressure” to go further on the deal, and warned the US Congress could demand a “harder line on sanctions relief”.

But, starting the negotiations process could be one of the main stumbling blocks, with a potential stand-off between the two nations.

Dr Christian told “It’s just going to be very difficult to sequence who moves when – Iran feels aggrieved that Trump first ripped up the deal, then decimated their economy, and then killed one of their leading military leaders.

“Because it was Trump who walked away they think they have the moral high ground to insist that sanctions are removed first.

“But this will be very hard for Biden to do given Iran has significantly breached its own obligations under the JCPOA.

“The final obstacle is just re-building trust, both between governments and in the financial sector.

“To a high degree the capricious nature of Trump’s foreign policy has booby-trapped Biden’s Iran policy.

“Why invest in Iran when another Trumpian Republican, if not Trump himself, could be elected in four years and take a wrecking ball to whatever is renegotiated? The lesson of sanctions is that they are far easier to enact than unpick.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Iran’s Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei warned Mr Biden that time could be running out to return to the deal.

He said: “The US will not have all the time in the world. We are waiting for the official announcement of their stance as well as the lifting of sanctions.”


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On Wednesday, during his first address since being appointed US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said Iran would need to come back to “full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA” but warned things were a long way off.

He added: “Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts and it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations.

“We are not there yet, to say the least.”

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