US special envoy for Iran: Not sure it’s possible to go back to nuclear deal

U.S. special envoy for Iran: ‘Doesn’t really matter who is president … there’s going to be a negotiation with Iran anyway.’

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The U.S. special envoy for Iran said Monday that regardless of the presidential election outcome, the Trump administration is continuing to apply sanctions on Iran. and he expects U.S.-Iran talks to take place in 2021.

“It does not really matter who is president on January 20 in the sense that there was going to be a negotiation with Iran anyway,” Elliot Abrams said at a press press briefing in Tel Aviv after he held talks Sunday and Monday with Israeli leaders.

Abrams said the Trump administration policy on Iran includes negotiating with Iran, so even after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, “that is not a source of disagreement.”

However, the veteran diplomat, who also served in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, said it “remains to be seen” whether or not it is even possible to go back to the Iran nuclear deal that was signed in 2015 during the Obama administration.

“It’s five years old. The first sunset has already taken place in the eyes of many countries in the world – the [expiration of the Iran] arms embargo, which we have been trying to avoid through snapback sanctions,” Abrams said.

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“We have a maximum pressure sanctions program. This will continue in November and December, because it’s unrelated to politics, it has nothing to do with the elections. It’s the foreign policy of the U.S., and it’s based on Iran’s conduct,” Abrams noted.

On Monday it was reported that the Trump administration is expected to add “a flood of sanctions” on the Islamic Republic in order to “make it harder for the Biden administration to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.”

Abrams speculated that a Biden administration would continue to use the existing sanctions if it enters into negotiations with Iran, because removing them would not be easy.

“Legally, it is correct that a president has the right to reverse any executive act that he took or that a previous president took. Whether it is advisable and politically possible is a different question,” Abrams said, noting that many of the sanctions on Iran related to human rights and terrorism.

“In theory they can be reversed, but it is hard to see how any president would really do that without a change in Iran’s behavior,” Abrams said.