WASHINGTON: The Biden administration has maintained “regular indirect contact” with Iran, says the US State Department, indicating that Washington might have received a new proposal from Tehran to resolve the long-running nuclear dispute.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdoll­ahian said on Wednesday that Tehran has presented a new proposal to the US to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s state TV reported that Iran was also seeking guarantees from Washington that a change of administration in the US will not undo the deal, as it happened with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed in 2015 but scrapped by the Trump administration in 2018.

When asked at a Tuesday afternoon news briefing, State Department Spokesperson Ned Rice said that Washington had maintained contact with Tehran, but did not share details.

Tehran seeking guarantees no Washington govt will undo deal in future

“We have been in regular indirect contact via the European Union, so we’re not going to speak to the specific dynamics of this diplomacy other than to say that (EU’s) Enrique Mora has served as an important go-between,” he said.

“We await a constructive response from the Iranians, a response that leaves behind issues that are extraneous to the JCPOA.” This was a reference to some new demands from Tehran, including the removal of sanctions on its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Asked if the Iranians were demanding assurance that a future US administration would not nullify the second deal as well, Mr. Price said: “On that, we have made very clear to the Iranians … that our intention was and is to effect a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA.”

The United States, he said, would remain in the deal “so long as Iran would live up to its end” of the bargain as “it would serve us no purpose to achieve a mutual return to compliance only to scrap it down the line”.

Mr Biden, who was then the vice president, played a key role in finalising the JCPOA. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States-plus Germany) together with the European Union had jointly signed the deal.

Washington not only withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 but it also re-imposed sanctions against Iran.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2022

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