Iran claims: US willing to lift major sanctions

In report published by Washington Free Beacon, Iranian government claiming that Biden is prepared to lift major sanctions as part of nuclear talks.

Elad Benari ,

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

The Iranian government is claiming that the Biden administration is prepared to lift American sanctions on Iran, including on its oil trade and banks.

The claim was made in an Iranian government report outlining the status of negotiations with the United States, portions of which were translated from Farsi for the Washington Free Beacon.

Sanctions are the key sticking point in talks between Iran and the United States in Vienna, as diplomats from both countries work to finalize an agreement that would see the Biden administration rejoin the 2015 nuclear accord.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, but has been holding indirect talks with the Biden administration on a return to the agreement.

Iran has insisted on a removal of all sanctions imposed on it, while the Biden administration has insisted that some will remain if they were imposed over other concerns, including human rights and Iran's support for extremist movements.

According to the Iranian report cited by the Free Beacon, Iran says it has extracted guarantees from the United States that a full range of sanctions will be lifted, including those impacting Iran's illicit oil trade, financial sector, state-controlled banks, automotive industry, aviation sector, and mining industry.

Iran also claims the United States will suspend the implementation of several laws that have targeted Iran's regional support for terrorist groups, including those in Syria. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif disclosed these concessions in the 264-page report sent to the country's parliament this week.

The report further claims that the United States is willing to suspend the implementation of several congressionally mandated laws, including the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act, and the Iran Sanctions Act. Each of these laws applied wide-ranging sanctions on Iranian officials and businesses. The Biden administration has the power to suspend their implementation under national security carveouts included in the bills.

Sanctions also will be lifted on Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei and those affiliated with his office, the report claims. Most Iranian banks, including the Central Bank of Iran, also will be removed from the US sanctions list.

The United States intends to keep in place sanctions on Iran's human rights abuses, terrorism networks, and missile program, which includes ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The Free Beacon noted that if the report is accurate, the number of new concessions goes even further than the original nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration. Republicans in Congress have been warning the Biden administration against removing sanctions and also say they have not been briefed about the status of talks. Most lawmakers have had to rely on media reports and leaks from the Iranian government to gain insight into the issue.

A State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon it is "not a secret that these specific sanctions have been raised as priorities by Iran throughout our negotiations, so they have been part of the discussion." However, "we do not have an understanding yet; nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and we will not negotiate this in the press no matter what Iran says at home, so we are not going to comment on specific claims about the negotiations."

Talks about the "precise nature and sequence of the sanctions-related steps" continue to take place, the State Department said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned recently that time was running out to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

"There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA," Blinken told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week expressed confidence that a deal to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran would be reached "in the coming weeks".

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that nuclear talks between world powers and Iran are not likely to resume until after the Islamic Republic installs its new president next month.

A seventh round of negotiations in Vienna is expected to convene around mid-August, said two officials who asked not to be identified in line with diplomatic rules.