Rouhani Says Biden Is 'Distant From Realities In Iran'
President Hassan Rouhani has said that delay in reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal would prove costly for the world powers that signed it. Rouhani said on Thursday [April 1] that messages from the Biden administration showed it was “distant from realities in Iran.”
Rouhani was probably referring to statements and actions by Iran’s conservatives and hardliners who oppose any concessions to the United States and demand a full lifting of US sanctions imposed as the main part of former president Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran.
Rouhani emphasized that a US return to the JCPOA, with Iran reversing steps in the nuclear program beyond JCPOA limits, remained a “win-win deal, but the Americans have not understood this and have not used this opportunity.”
Iran began expanding its nuclear program in 2019, a year after US president Donald Trump left the JCPOA and imposed stringent sanctions that sent Iran into three years of stagflation. Tehran has increased the volume and purity of uranium enrichment, while the Biden administration has demanded Iran return to JCPOA limits before the US re-accepts the 2015 deal and lifts sanctions.
Both the Biden administration and the three JCPOA European signatories – the UK, Germany, and France – have said they see JCPOA revival as a step towards a wider agreement covering Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional security.
Analysts disagree as to why the US has delayed action. Among reasons cited are a lack of direct access to Tehran, which some officials have highlighted in background media briefings, and inability to read internal differences in Iran. June’s presidential election in Iran, when Rouhani is ineligible to see a third consecutive term, has led to suggestions that Washington should wait.
There is also vocal opposition in Washington to JCPOA revival, which especially Republican Congresspeople argue would be a dangerous concession to Iran. JCPOA critics this week jumped on a reported discussion in the Biden camp to offer Tehran limited sanctions relief in return for nuclear curbs.
When elected president in 2013, Rouhani pursued deeper economic cooperation with the West. His critics argued for economic self-reliance and say their case has been strengthened by post-2018 US sanctions.
It remains unclear if the Iranians are playing a 'good cop, bad cop' tactic with the United States, or there are genuine difference between Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the one hand and hardliners on the other. Ultimately, decisions rest with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the only person who can allow contacts and talks with Washington. He remains antagonistic toward the West and promotes an Eastern 0riented foreign policy, forging deeper ties with China and Russia.