Biden administration willing to lift terror sanctions on Iran

In a bid to entice Iran to return to the nuclear deal, U.S. is offering to lower or remove sanctions imposed on Tehran for supporting terrorism.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Biden administration has indicated its willingness to ease or remove sanctions imposed on Iran for terrorism and other sectors in order to entice Iran to stop violating the 2015 nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Many of those sanctions used U.S. terrorism designations and were imposed under the Trump administration, but while American officials have stated they may be willing to lift some, they have not yet been specific about which ones.

Two sources familiar with the issue told the Journal that the U.S. is open to lifting terror sanctions against Iran’s central bank, its national oil and tanker companies and several key economic sectors, including steel, aluminum and others.

American officials believe that removing terror sanctions from some of Iran’s state entities and those imposed on critical sectors of the economy would help Iran’s crippled economy to recover, the report said.

U.S. officials have been in Vienna for the past week with the other powers that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Trump pulled out of in 2018. Iran has recently upped its enrichment of uranium to 60% purity in the latest major violation of the agreement.

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Although diplomats reported progress, the talks are hampered by the refusal of the Iranians to sit in the same room as the Americans, forcing messages to be sent back and forth and slowing the process down. Talks are breaking for the weekend before resuming next week.

According to the Journal, the Americans are still not agreeing to Iran’s request to remove the “foreign terrorist organization” designation from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with sources saying the issue is not on the U.S. agenda at the talks.

The Americans have been demanding that Iran first stop its serious breaches of the accord and then sanctions would be removed, but the Iranians have remained adamant that they will not make any changes until after they have verified that the U.S. has removed the sanctions imposed by Trump.

In a briefing with journalists, a senior State Department official said Wednesday that the U.S. provided Iran with examples of sanctions Washington would negotiate in order to secure a deal.

“I think they have a pretty clear sense at this point about our view about the sanctions that we’re going to have to lift” and those “that we would not lift,” the official said.

While the Biden administration strives to return the U.S. and Iran to the nuclear deal, a group of 34 Republican senators on Wednesday tabled a bill to give Congress the power to prevent the administration from lifting any of the sanctions.

“It’s increasingly clear that the Biden Administration’s promises to ‘lengthen and strengthen’ the Iran nuclear deal are instead an attempt to re-enter the flawed 2015 JCPOA at any cost,” said Senator Jim Risch, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member.

The proposed legislation would require Biden to submit reports to the relevant congressional committees in order to remove any sanctions or other action that would change U.S. foreign policy on Iran.