U.S. Artificial Move

February 5, 2022 - 21:30

TEHRAN – The United States has restored a controversial sanctions waiver that was designed to restrict Iran’s peaceful nuclear program in the first place. 

American media reported that the U.S. State Department notified Congress Friday that it is waiving sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program. The waivers are intended to allow other countries to cooperate with Iran on modifying certain segments of Iran’s nuclear program. 

The U.S. move comes at a critical time. Chief negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries as well as the U.S. are preparing to return to Vienna to resume multilateral talks aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

A U.S. official argued that the U.S. move would enable other partners in Vienna to pursue cooperation with Iran that serves U.S. interests. “We are issuing the waiver now for a simple reason: it will enable some of our international partners to have more detailed technical discussions to enable cooperation that we view as being in our non-proliferation interests,” the official told CNN. 

The official added, “The technical discussions facilitated by the waiver are necessary in the final weeks of JCPOA talks, and the waiver itself would be essential to ensuring Iran's swift compliance with its nuclear commitments.”

The waiver in question was canceled by the Trump administration. In its step-by-step strategy for eating away at the JCPOA, the Trump administration scrapped many parts of the JCPOA but it kept in place an array of sanctions waivers even after withdrawing from the JCPOA. 

The Trump administration walked out of the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, but it continued to renew the sanctions waivers up until May 2020, when it finally decided to end them in a bid to make it difficult for the next administration to rejoin the JCPOA. 

The reason for the U.S. to keep those waivers was that they served U.S. interests.

The U.S., however, seems to be trying to tout the restoration of a waiver as a goodwill gesture that should be reciprocated by Iran. 

The nature of the waiver in question and the U.S. insistence on keeping its economic pressure have led Iran to coldly receive the U.S. move, which was dubbed by some Iranian analysts as an empty overture. 

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a U.S. expert, described the media fuss about the U.S. move as “extremely misleading.”

“Extremely misleading. The US has done absolutely nothing to end ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions targeting innocent citizens,” he said on Twitter. “While preserving Iran's rights, any deal must comprehensively & verifiably remove all of the barbaric sanctions & credible assurances must also be provided.”

Also, Nour News, a news website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, described the U.S. move as a “puerile zero-sum game.” The website said the U.S. can show willingness for a deal by taking effective steps such as lifting economic sanctions. 

The U.S. move, therefore, is by no means a goodwill gesture, at least from the Iranian perspective. If the U.S. is really eager to get a deal, it should prove its willingness by removing the economic sanctions that were imposed by the Trump administration. 

By restoring the nuclear sanctions waiver, the Biden administration did only serve its interests. Experts believe that the U.S., through the waiver, seeks to pave the way for converting heavy water in the Arak reactor, supply enriched uranium to the Tehran research reactor, and transfer fuel waste abroad.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, rejected the U.S. move as a “show of sanctions lifting.”

He said on Twitter that Iran benefitting economically in a real, effective and verifiable way is a necessary requirement of a deal in Vienna. He added that the U.S. show of sanctions lifting is not constructive. 

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