Iran: US responds to nuclear weapons programme progress
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US President Joe Biden has had a challenging few weeks. He has struggled to contain the Delta Covid variant now sweeping across the US and America’s shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan did not help his reputation either. The US leader badly needs a popularity boost and Iran could potentially be the key to this.
Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 shocked Mr Biden.
In his election pledge, he vowed to reverse many of his predecessor’s damaging foreign policies.
The nuclear deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action limited Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.
In 2015, the US along with several other countries, including the UK, signed an agreement with Iran.
The nations agreed to lift certain crippling sanctions against the country, in return for significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme.
But Mr Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018.
He justified the action saying it failed to limit Iran’s missile program and regional influence.
Iran began ignoring the limitations set out in the 2015 agreement a year later.
Mr Biden said Mr Trump’s policy was a “profound mistake” in 2018.
Why does Mr Biden’s success coincide with the success of the nuclear deal?
The revival of the deal could be essential to improve Mr Biden’s poor popularity.
Helen Thompson wrote in the New Statesman: “The revival of the agreement would allow Biden to appeal to US voters both as oil consumers and as citizens worried about climate change.”
Heavy sanctions imposed on Iranian oil could be lifted if the US committed to the nuclear deal once more.
Introducing cheaper Iranian oil to the US market could satisfy US oil consumers.
While reducing the US’s need to produce its own oil, which would help Mr Biden to deliver his ambitious climate change commitments.
Ms Thompson added: “If the return of Iranian oil to international markets was imminent, Mr Biden could pursue his climate objectives in energy policy without risking a sharp rise in oil prices.”
Will President Biden re-commit the US to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?
During his presidential election campaign, Mr Biden criticised his predecessor for allowing Iran to stockpile and enrich uranium.
He also condemned Mr Trump for breaking an essential alliance with Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, who had joined together to force Iran to reduce its nuclear activities.
Last Autumn Mr Biden said the US “urgently [needed] to change course”.
Since Mr Biden became President, talks have resumed with Iran to try and get them to agree to the terms of the 2015 deal once again.
The talks began in April, but the Iranian Government walked away from them in June.
Analysts claim reviving the nuclear deal will be difficult to achieve now.
The US President has turned his attention to tackling the crisis in the US, and Iran’s new President doesn’t appear keen to recommence direct talks with the US.
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