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The Cradle
US hardline stance on sanctions impedes Vienna talks progress
Reports indicate that Washington's unwillingness to lift punitive economic sanctions on Iran is derailing talks in the Austrian capital
By News Desk - January 13 2022

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani in Vienna, Austria. 29 November, 2021. (Photo credit: Lisi Niesner/Reuters)

As sanctions-removal negotiations continue in Vienna between Iran and various world powers, several reports on 13 January claimed that the process is being hindered by Washington’s unwillingness to lift all sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

According to these reports the US is only offering to lift some of the punitive measure. For their part, the government of Iran has rejected the piecemeal lifting of sanctions.

The US has been participating in the Vienna negotiations only indirectly, as it is no longer a member of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA fell apart in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed crushing sanctions on Tehran.

Since the start of the talks, Tehran has insisted that the only way for the US to reenter the nuclear agreement is for Washington to lift all its unilateral sanctions at once. The Islamic Republic has also demanded that the Americans provide a guarantee that future US administrations will abide by the terms of the agreement.

Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal have been meeting in the Austrian capital since late November with the hope of resurrecting the deal.

The US claims that the sanctions are to stop Iran from using its nuclear energy program to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran, however, insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The position of the US regarding the JCPOA is to a large extent based on that of Israel, as Tel Aviv alleges that reviving the 2015 nuclear deal will give Tehran the means to develop weapons that can be used to attack them. In response, the government of Iran has said that it has no intention of attacking Israel unless it is in self-defense.

On 11 January, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his government has no obligation to abide by the terms of any agreement that Iran might reach with the P4+1. Bennett added that western countries must ”maintain a credible military option against Iran while they pursue an agreement.”

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