Washington signaled on Monday that it is not willing to remove terrorism-related sanctions demanded by Iran as a pre-condition to reach a new nuclear deal.
At his press briefing Monday, the US State Department Spokesman Ned Price reiterated that the administration of President Joe Biden did not want to "negotiate in public" but also said that Tehran needs to address the concerns of Washington if it wants sanctions-lifting that goes beyond the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
"If they want to negotiate issues that fall outside the purview of the JCPOA, then we’ll do that, but they will need to negotiate those issues in good faith with reciprocity," Price said.
Apparently the two most important demands, unrelated to the JCPOA, that Iran has put on the table, and wants to be met as "signs of goodwill" before a deal is signed, are removing the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) from a US terror list and the release of Iranian funds frozen under US sanctions in other countries, such as South Korea and Iraq.
The IRGC, however, was sanctioned in 2019 by the Trump administration as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and Washington has signaled that if Tehran wants to have this and related sanctions removed, it should provide guarantees that its regional behavior will change.
Moreover, Iranian officials have also threatened revenge against former US officials for the targeted killing of IRGC Qods (Quds) Force commander Qasem Soleimani in 2020, a factor that has made it more difficult to discuss the removal of IRGC terrorist designation.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday indicated that Tehran was not going to offer any guarantees not to take revenge on American officials. "Bringing these individuals to justice is a fundamental principle in Iran's foreign policy," he said in his weekly press briefing.
Price on Monday called the Islamic Republic the "world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism". "We will use every appropriate tool to confront the IRGC’s destabilizing role in the region including working closely with our partners in Israel," he said. This was perhaps a signal that the Biden administration does not intend to remove IRGC sanctions.
Another thorny issue has been Tehran’s insistence to have its frozen funds in third countries released, something that could be linked with freedom for several US citizens held in Iran on trumped-up political charges.
Tehran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Monday that arrangements over repatriating Iran’s funds were “none of Washington’s business." Iranian officials have claimed in recent days that they will repatriate the funds independently of the nuclear talks, but they did not explain how if US banking sanction are not lifted.
Washington wants the releasee of its citizens currently detained in Iran as a sign of goodwill from Tehran. Beyond the nuclear deal itself, Price said Monday, Washington is focused on the release of its citizens.
Tehran has always insisted that the issue of detained foreign nationals and dual citizens is independent from the nuclear talks but is prepared to release the detainees "on humanitarian grounds".