US President Joe Biden poses for a picture as he arrives for the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 30, 2021.

Biden To Discuss In Rome Possible Penalties On Iran With Allies


The US and its allies may now be more willing to impose penalties if Iran continues acting in violation of its nuclear deal and delaying talks to revive it.

Sources in Washington told the CNN Friday that US officials are very skeptical of any breakthrough in renewed nuclear talks with Iran over the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and are "actively" discussing imposing new penalties on Tehran.

"They say the US and its allies are now more willing to impose a higher cost on Iran for failing to come to an agreement if Tehran continues to take actions that are inconsistent with the 2015 nuclear deal and bring it closer to developing a nuclear weapon," CNN reported.

The sources cited would not provide details of these costs might be, the network reported. Washington under its ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions already threatens punitive action against any third countries or parties dealing with Iran, and has sanctioned most senior Iranian officials including President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The US and the European powers express concern about Iran’s uranium enrichment to a high level of purity − some of which they claim has no civilian use − and other knowledge and experience Tehran has gained in building up its nuclear program since the US left the JCPOA in 2018.

On June 20, two days after the election of Raisi to the presidency, Iran suspended the talks that began in Vienna in April. Since then the new administration has been reviewing the process and only recently said it expected talks – at least with remaining JCPOA members – to resume by the end of November.

President Joe Biden, who is in Rome for the G20 summit this weekend, will discuss possible coordination over Iran with leaders of the three European powers – France, Germany and Britain – who are JCPOA signatories, along with China and Russia. The ‘E3’ have called on both the US and Iran to respect the JCPOA.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Wednesday that Biden should show goodwill by ‘allowing’ the release of $10 billion of Iran’s funds frozen by Asian banks wary of US punitive action.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri-Kani has also stressed that talks can succeed only with the full removal of sanctions as required by the JCPOA. It has been widely reported that in recent discussions with the European Union, Tehran has sought guarantees from other JCPOA signatories that the US could not again leave the JCPOA once it returned.

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that fresh sanctions on Iranian entities and persons imposed by the US Treasury Friday contradicted Washington’s claim of willingness to revive the JCPOA and showed the Biden administration was continuing the approach of former President Donald Trump.

The US Treasury sanctioned companies and individuals connected with Iran’s military drone development. A recent drone attack on US troops in southern Syria who train forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad was, officials said, “resourced and encouraged” by Iran.

“Together with other JCPOA members and the United States, which we have been talking about for more than four months, we are ready to resume negotiations as soon as Iran agrees to set a date,” said a French foreign ministry spokesman Friday.

A US official familiar with the talks told CNN that Iran's public pronouncements "don't give us a huge amount of optimism" and that there was little indication that Iran was intent on resolving the outstanding issues. There was no reason to be optimistic, he said.

Iran could be trying a number of strategies. First, it might be trying to buy time, believing that with is rapid enrichment of uranium it can gain more leverage in the talks. Or, it can be trying to extract more concessions on the removal of US sanctions.

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