Biden Poised To Lift Trump-Era Sanctions On Iran’s Supreme Leader
The Biden White House appears desperate to complete a restored JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran in Vienna prior to newly elected President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi entering office in early August, given his hardline credentials which will made any future deal much more difficult to achieve.
That desperation for a rapid conclusion to Vienna is evident in a new NBC report Saturday. The network cites multiple officials who say the Biden administration is “considering lifting sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader as part of negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.”
The current sanctions on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei go back to the Trump administration, imposed in June 2019 at a moment of heightened tensions with Iran-backed militias in Iraq. The actions had banned the Ayatollah from traveling to the US or conducting financial transactions with US companies or holding assets in the US.
However, the sanctions were always more symbolic than anything, given the Ayatollah would never visit the US regardless, and has no assets in the US – and the same goes for his inner circle.
A senior State Department official during a press briefing on Thursday had suggested the door is open to such an easing on sanctions against the Ayatollah.
“We are still working through all these issues, and that includes the issues of sanctions that you mentioned,” the official said according to NBC.
Can’t believe it. Like if Sayyed Khamenei is waiting to travel to the US.
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) June 26, 2021
There’s currently speculation that this is an Iranian demand for advancing the next round of nuclear talks in Vienna, which is likely appealing to US negotiators given the sanctions have no real effect anyway (again, given the complete lack of foreign travel by the Ayatollah in the first place).
In the meantime, each side is still waging a diplomatic pressure campaign toward gaining leverage, with the Iranian side continuing to enrich uranium far above caps set in place by the original 2015 JCPOA, and with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday warning, “There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA,”
He told reporters: “We haven’t reached that point — I can’t put a date on it — but it’s something that we’re conscious of.” The Iranian side too has warned it will not let things “drag on” in Vienna, and also hopes to reach a deal before the new Iranian president takes office.
Sat, 06/26/2021 – 14:15
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