Washington — The Biden administration on Friday restored some sanctions relief to Iran’s civil nuclear program as talks aimed at salvaging the languishing 2015 nuclear deal enter a critical phase.
As U.S. negotiators head back to Vienna for what could be a make-or-break session, Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers related to Iran’s civilian nuclear activities. The move reverses the Trump administration’s decision to rescind them.
The waivers are intended to entice Iran to return to compliance with the 2015 deal that it has been violating since former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions. Iran says it is not respecting the terms of the deal because the U.S. pulled out of it first. Iran has demanded the restoration of all sanctions relief it was promised under the deal to return to compliance.
Friday’s move lifts the sanctions threat against foreign countries and companies from Russia, China and Europe that had been cooperating with nonmilitary parts of Iran’s nuclear program under the terms of the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
The Trump administration had ended the “civ-nuke” waivers in May 2020 as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran that began when Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, complaining that it was the worst diplomatic agreement ever negotiated and gave Iran a pathway to developing a bomb.