News ID: 278449
Published: 0309 GMT December 21, 2020

US paper advises Biden on how to get out of Trump 'mess' on Iran

US paper advises Biden on how to get out of Trump 'mess' on Iran

US paper the Los Angeles Times said Iran is going to be among the thorniest issues when President-elect Joe Biden takes office next month, advising him to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

Since then, Trump has imposed ever more economic sanctions on Iran, but they haven’t caused Iran to bend to his will, the paper said in an opinion piece.

“It seems as if Biden’s path should be simple: Reverse the Trump sanctions and agree once again to the 2015 deal,” it said, Press TV reported.

The paper, however, touched on "a deep store of animosity and mistrust" between Tehran and Washington, reminding that negotiations between the United States and Iran have never been smooth.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his government was willing to return to the Obama-era nuclear limits if the US lifted sanctions. If the new Biden administration "returns to the situation as it was in 2017, then so will we,” he said.

"But that’s where the rub will come. Negotiating a step-by-step agreement about which nuclear limits will be reimposed first, which sanctions will be released when, and how Iran’s compliance will be verified will take some delicate diplomacy,” the LA Times said.

According to the paper, Biden may also have trouble building consensus for a new deal.

The 2015 agreement was opposed not only by most Republicans, but by several pro-Israel Democrats, including Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, it said.

Even Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a close Biden ally and advisor, has made clear he opposes lifting all of the sanctions Trump imposed, arguing that they give the United States leverage over Iran, the paper added.

"We’ve built up this presumed leverage,” Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative critic of the pact, warned at a conference last week. "We’d be giving it away for nothing in return.”

However, the LA Times reasoned why opponents of lifting nuclear sanctions on Iran are wrong,

First, for all their purported power as "leverage,” Trump’s sanctions haven’t worked, the paper said. Their goal was to compel Iran to change its behavior, and that didn’t happen, it added.

Second, lifting Trump’s sanctions against Iran’s nuclear activities won’t deprive the United States of all its leverage, the paper went on to say.

Trump and earlier presidents also imposed sanctions on Iran over non-nuclear issues, including its ballistic missile program, its support for resistance groups and human rights and Biden hasn’t offered to relinquish those, the LA Times explained.

Iranian officials have strongly asserted that the missile capability is among the country's red lines, related to its national security on which no one can compromise. They have also dismissed demands about Iran's regional role and claims about its human rights record. 

The bigger problem, the paper said, is that even if the sanctions are removed, a return to the 2015 deal may be impossible.

"Perhaps the distrust between the two sides is too wide to bridge,” it cited Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as saying recently.

The paper suggested that for improving his chance of success with Iran, Biden should begin by announcing that his administration will make sure Iran can buy COVID-19 vaccines on the international market without running afoul of US sanctions.

The Trump administration said its sanctions did not apply to humanitarian or medical shipments — but it has also imposed cumbersome bureaucratic requirements on banks, suppliers and shipping companies requesting permits for such exports.

"Biden could streamline that process to demonstrate his interest in a better relationship,” the LA Times said.



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