US Secretary of State Antony Blinken supported a European Union proposal aimed at salvaging the Iran nuclear deal, saying on Monday that the United States is “willing to move forward on the basis of what has been agreed”, but it is unclear if Iran is prepared to do the same.
His comments come as hopes of reviving the 2015 agreement are fading as Iran continues to breach its obligations under the deal and expand its nuclear program. The US withdrew from that deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 under former President Donald Trump. Several rounds of indirect talks between the two sides have not yet yielded any results.
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, recently made a proposal that he described as “the best possible deal he deems feasible as a facilitator of the negotiations”, noting that “after 15 months of intense, constructive negotiations and countless interactions with the JCPOA participants and the US, the scope for additional major compromises to reach an agreement has been exhausted.”
“It’s not a perfect agreement, but it covers all the essential elements and involves hard-won compromises from all parties,” Borrell wrote in a post on Saturday. “Decisions must be made now to seize this unique opportunity to succeed and unlock the great potential of a fully implemented deal. I see no other comprehensive or effective alternative within reach.”
During a press briefing at the United Nations on Monday, Blinken noted that “the EU has made a best offer based on many, many months of discussions, negotiations and talks.”
“It’s very consistent with something they put forward in March and agreed to, that we would pursue it in March,” Blinken said. “But it remains to be seen whether Iran is willing and able to move forward.”
“We continue to believe, as I said this morning, that that would be the best way forward – a return to compliance on both sides with the JCPOA, to ensure that we put Iran’s nuclear program back in a box and avoid any kind of crisis. “, he said.
Tehran has also said it is “ready to conclude negotiations at short notice, should the other side be willing to do the same.”
“We have shared our proposed ideas, both in substance and form, to pave the way for a speedy conclusion of the negotiations in Vienna aimed at resolving the damaging complicated situation caused by the unilateral and illegal withdrawal of the US.” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani said. said on Twitter on Sunday.
“We are working closely with our JCPOA partners, especially the coordinator, to give the US another chance to show good faith and act responsibly,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, the Biden administration unveiled a new set of sanctions targeting “illegal” aid to Iran’s oil industry. Blinken said in a written statement that “until Iran is ready to return to full implementation of the JCPOA, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to crack down on exports of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemicals from Iran.”
According to Blinken, Monday’s sanctions target “six entities that facilitate illegal transactions involving Iranian petroleum, as well as petroleum and petrochemical products, which are important sources of revenue for the Iranian government.”
The two entities sanctioned by the State Department are Pioneer Ship management PTE LTD, “a company that operated one liquefied petroleum gas tanker, for serving as a commercial manager for a ship carrying Iranian petroleum products” and Golden Warrior Shipping, Co. Ltd. , which has “conducted transactions related to Iranian petroleum and petroleum products, including providing logistical support to the Iranian petroleum trade.”
“The ministry is further identifying the Glory Harvest vessel as blocked property of Golden Warrior Shipping Co. Ltd,” Blinken said.
The US Treasury Department has “sanctioned four entities that support Iran’s Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co.,” which is under US sanctions and “continues to be involved in the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products abroad,” Blinken said.
Monday’s sanctions build on those of June and July, the Treasury Department said. They focus on a company based in the United Arab Emirates called Blue Cactus Heavy Equipment and Machinery Spare Parts Trading LLC as well as Hong Kong and Malaysia based Farwell Canyon HK Limited, Shekufei International Trading Co., Limited and PZNFR Trading Limited which all supported PGPICC, according to the US Treasury Department.