Part 1: Biden’s Opening Bid on Iran Diplomacy

On February 18, the Biden Administration announced three opening moves to jumpstart diplomacy with Iran, with the goal of new talks that will ultimately lead to steps by both Iran and the United States to fully comply with their obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. The three moves include:

  • The United States will accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the so-called P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – with Iran to chart a diplomatic way forward.
     
  • The Biden Administration rescinded the Trump administration’s decision in September 2020 to invoke “snapback sanctions” worldwide at the United Nations—a provision under Security Council Resolution 2231 –that was rejected by the other 14 members of the council.
     
  • The Biden administration also informed Iran’s U.N. Mission in New York that it had removed Trump’s travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats in New York, which limited them to travel only between their residences, their office and the United Nations. They now can move anywhere within a 25-mile radius of the United Nations. Some Iranian officials also may be allowed to travel to the United Nations.

But on February 28, Iran turned down the offer for new talks. The Biden administration said that it was "disappointed" by the response but remained "ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy." The following is the briefing announcement by the senior State Department officials, a joint statement from the United States, Britain, France and Germany, U.S. letter to the U.N. Security Council and statements by Biden officials.

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Senior State Department Officials on Diplomacy to Constrain Iran’s Nuclear Program

February 18, 2021

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “From the outset, President Biden, even candidate Biden, has said that he is committed to resuming a American multilateral diplomatic role in trying to resolve the issues that we have with Iran, and that among those goals was going to be to see whether we could get to a situation where Iran is back in compliance with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and the U.S. is back in compliance with the JCPOA, and use that as a platform to then negotiate a longer, stronger deal, and also to deal with some of the regional security concerns that we have and that our partners in the region have.

“And today, I think we’ve seen some of the logical steps in implementing and even materializing that commitment.  First, Secretary Blinken met with his E3 counterparts, and I think what is among the most significant outcomes was – and a joint statement is probably the first time in a long time that – in several years that the U.S. and its E3 allies were able to come together and produce a joint statement, a unified vision on how to address the Iran nuclear issue. 

“And I think it was clear that we’re on the same page in saying that we’re prepared to come back to talks to get back into compliance if Iran will get back into compliance; and also calling collectively on Iran not to take the steps that it is threatening to take February 23rd in terms of no longer implementing the Additional Protocol and reducing or ending some of the JCPOA verification mechanisms; and saying that it would be a mistake to take – at a time when there’s an opportunity to move forward, for Iran to take a step that is decidedly moving backwards; and also, a consensus on the part of all four of us that if we can get back into the – back to the JCPOA, that should be a step on which we should build to both, as I said, strengthen and lengthen the deal and address some of the regional issues of concern.  And of course, Iran would bring its concerns to the table.

“In the wake of that joint statement, the EU political director in a tweet said that he would be ready as a convener of the joint commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to convene a meeting of the – informal meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to talk about the way forward in terms of Iran’s nuclear program and dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.  And the State Department issued a response saying that, if invited, we would be there and we’d be prepared – this is not in the statement, but the goal of coming together would be to sit down and to see – start what could be a prolonged path of trying to get back to a situation where both the U.S. and Iran were back into compliance.  But that’s not going to happen without a meeting, and therefore we’d be prepared to sit down and talk about what are the steps that need to be taken to get back to that point, and then, as I said, build on that to broaden and strengthen the deal. 

“So that’s what today was about.  It’s about taking diplomatic steps to see whether we can get to the point that President Biden has said he was committed to for years now.  And some other diplomatic steps were also taken today, and for that I would turn to my colleague.”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO:  “Just a couple actions up in New York today related to Iran that we would like to highlight as well.  The acting representative of the United States to the United Nations, Ambassador Mills, submitted a letter today to the United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the United Nations in her capacity as president of the UN Security Council for the month of February reversing the previous administration’s position on the UN Security Council Iran sanctions snapback issue.  In so doing, the United States is affirming that UN Security Council Resolution 2231 remains in full effect.  And that letter was circulated to the full Security Council and has now taken effect.

“Separately, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations up in New York has notified the Iranian mission that the United States is bringing the domestic travel controls on Iranian representatives back in line with those in place for several other missions to the UN.  So essentially, returning to the status quo of the last few years before the last administration.

“Today’s actions return our longstanding posture with regard to Iran at the UN and, in our view, will strengthen our ability to work with allies and partners in the UN Security Council to address Iran’s nuclear program and other destabilizing activities.”

QUESTION:  “These are significant announcements and a shift from what you’ve been saying, but we’re doing this in a background call.  I just noticed that the Secretary just put out a tweet about a totally different topic, and the EU political director, with all due respect to him, is not the most senior official.  So I wanted to know what the style of how this is being made says about what you’re trying to say through the style.

“And on substance, do you believe this should be enough to prevent Iran from following – from following through on its threat to evict inspectors on Sunday, because it does not meet Iran’s threshold of the U.S. coming back into compliance that it demanded before Sunday?”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “I think we recognize that this is just a very first initial step to say that we are prepared to attend the meeting that would be convened by the EU.  We recognize that that’s not in and of itself a breakthrough.  Even the first meeting itself may not be a breakthrough.  So we’re not going to hype it for what it isn’t, but it is a step.  Until we sit down and talk, nothing’s going to happen.  It doesn’t mean that when we sit down and talk we’re going to succeed, but we do know that if we don’t take that step, the situation’s just going to go from bad to worse.  So I think the style of this is reflective of the fact that it’s a meaningful step, but we recognize that it’s just one of many that are going to have to be taken by all sides if we’re going to get to where we say we want to go.

“On whether this is – would be enough to prevent Iran to – not to take its step, frankly, that was not part of the calculation.  I think President Biden wasn’t particularly eager or in the mode of trying to take unilateral steps to try to prevent Iran from doing what it shouldn’t do in the first place.  So these are steps that we took because we felt they were the right steps in order to resume diplomacy, whether the steps that my colleague mentioned or the steps that were – or the joint statement with the E3 or our expressed willingness to sit down with Iran and the P5+1, which are all the right steps in order to get back to diplomacy. 

“I think it will be up to Iran to decide whether it wants to take its own step, which will be viewed in this context as moving backwards, as a step in the wrong direction when we’re indicating and I think others are indicating that they are willing to move forward.

“So Iran will make its own decision.  I think we’re not alone and that the E3 feel the same, that it would be a dangerous step if they were further eroding not just the JCPOA but sort of the architecture of the nonproliferation arrangements by diminishing the ability of the IAEA to know what they’re doing.  But this was not done… with the intent or calculated in order to see whether we could measure what we needed to do to get them to stop.  We hope they won’t do it because we think it would be a mistake, but these steps are steps that we’re taking because we think they’re the right ones.”

QUESTION:  “Is there any indication from Tehran that they are willing to take any steps, including some of the issues that were raised by the E3 in their statement today, such as the processing of uranium fuel and metals, to get back into compliance before you resume or as you resume negotiations, in addition to not taking these next threatening steps?”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “I think the notion that either side is going to take steps in anticipation of the meeting or as a sort of down payment before the meeting, I think that’s probably not realistic.  I know President Biden doesn’t think that the United States should take steps simply for the – as a entry ticket to get back to the table with Iran.  Getting back to the table is where we will discuss all these issues, including the ones that we and the E3 have asked Iran to reverse.  And as we know, Iran has made a number of requests about the U.S. and its sanctions.  So – but we’re not going to resolve it unilaterally.  We’re not going to resolve these in a vacuum.  We’re not going to resolve it by assuming that one side is going to take steps on its own. 

“The only way this is going to happen – if it’s going to happen – I assume this is going to be a painstaking and difficult process that’s going to take some time for it to see whether both sides agree on what they will define as compliance or compliance.  What does it mean?  What’s the sequence?  What steps does the U.S. have to take?  What steps does Iran have to take?  That’s not – that doesn’t – it’s not something that is sort of preordained.  It’s going to involve getting together and talking about those, which is why the EU invitation is important and why we said that we would be prepared to go if, in fact, the EU were able to organize such a meeting.”

QUESTION:  “When you said that President Biden doesn’t believe the U.S. should take steps just to get back to the table, does that close off some of these sort of creative solutions that various people have come up with – the IMF loan, different ways that Iran could get a cash infusion in the short term, ways to – or ways for Iran to get rid of excess uranium, which would require new waivers?  Are those steps and things like it potential things to talk about at this meeting, or do you close those off ahead of time?”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “No, just to be clear, I think all kinds of things could be discussed at the table.  That’s why we thought it would – was a good idea when the EU proposed – said that they were ready to invite.  We thought, now, this is the right next step, is to sit down to talk about all these issues. 

“I think the Iranians have the expectation and the desire that the U.S. would take these steps in anticipation of any meeting, sort of as a prerequisite to or as a down payment, if you will.  And I think the President’s view, the Secretary’s view, is we’re prepared to talk about all these things, but let’s talk about them to work through them together, to see what we would need to do and what they would need to do in order to get back to the point where we’re both in compliance.  So nothing is off the table in that sense.  We want to sit down and see what it is that we could work out together, together with the other P5+1 members.

“So yeah, that’s my answer.  Just that it’s not steps that we are considering taking sort of now unilaterally.  We think they’re the kind of steps that we should talk about and see whether we could reach an understanding about what gets done.”

QUESTION:  “Do you have any indications whether Iran will agree to a meeting?  And have you had any informal consultations in any way with the Iranians so far, ‘so far’ meaning since the new administration took office?”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “So, I think as we’ve said, we have consulted broadly with all sides.  I’m not going to get into sort of the logistics of exactly who we spoke to, but I have to say, no, we don’t have an indication of whether Iran will agree to a meeting.  They’ve said that they would go back into compliance if we did too, the mirror image of what we’ve said.  Unless – if they think that that could happen simply by both sides separately taking steps, I think that would be unrealistic.  So if they genuinely mean what they say, which is that they are prepared to reverse their steps if the U.S. gets back in compliance with the JCPOA, then it’s hard to see how that can be done without sitting down.  It will be up to them to decide what they do, but I think it would be sort of both unfortunate and at odds with their stated view that they want to come back if we come back.  That’s not going to happen simply by one side telling the other one what to do.  It’s going to happen if we sit down together. 

“So we’ll find out, I assume, in the coming days whether they are prepared to join a meeting that the EU would convene.  And of course, our hope is that they would, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

QUESTION:  “Just very simply, through the timeline for the meeting, a location in person or virtual, any other details you could provide would be great.”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “So really, that’s not up to us; it’s up to the EU.  And I think all we’ve seen today is a first indication – the first that we’ve seen since President Biden has been in office that the EU thinks that the conditions are ready, that they are ready to invite the parties to talk.  So timing I don’t know, and location I don’t know.  What I can say it would not be at the ministers level; it would be at the political directors level.  So in our case, it would be the special envoy for Iran and others it would be at political directors level.  But beyond that, we don’t have any – it’s not up to us, and so we don’t know about either the timing or the location.”

QUESTION:  “One, because back in September when the Trump administration said that it had invoked snapback, basically the rest of the world said, ‘Well, no you didn’t.’  So is there any practical effect to the decision that you made today in terms of how the UN has been treating this? 

“And secondly, on the travel restrictions of the UN, does this mean now – when you say that they go back to the others, they’re kind of like the North Korean ones where they’re allowed to travel within that 25-mile radius of the UN, is that correct?  Because as I recall, the Trump administration’s restrictions basically limited them to going to the UN and to their mission, and that was about it.”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO:  “On the travel restrictions, the idea here is to take steps to remove unnecessary obstacles to multilateral diplomacy by amending the restrictions on domestic travel.  Those had been extremely restrictive, as you just indicated, and essentially this just reverses the last administration’s imposition of those additional travel restrictions and returns the domestic travel controls on Iranian representatives back in line with those of several other missions to the UN.  And that’s just a return to our longstanding posture that we’ve had with regard to the domestic travel of Iranian representatives at the UN. 

“On snapback, snapback was designed to help ensure that Iran performed its commitments under the JCPOA.  And as your question indicated, no other member of the UN Security Council agreed that the previously terminated provisions of prior resolutions had snapped back last September, despite the prior administration’s position.  So that essentially isolated the United States on the Security Council and in the UN system and weakened our ability to work with our allies and partners on the Security Council to address Iran’s destabilizing activity.  So by reversing this position, it basically puts us back in good stead with our allies and partners and strengthens our ability to engage other Security Council members on Iran, and work within the format of 2231 as we pursue the diplomacy that my colleague has been talking about.” 

QUESTION:  “Can you respond to the criticism that’s already coming in from Republicans that you’re essentially making concessions to Iran while their bad behavior continues and that you’re only rewarding bad Iranian behavior with these decisions?”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “I would – as a general matter, I’d say these are not concessions to Iran.  These are concessions for common sense, talking to Iran to try to resolve the nuclear issue.  I think we’ve seen what four years of maximum pressure and not talking to Iran have yielded: an accelerated Iranian nuclear program and a more aggressive Iranian posture in the region.  And removing gratuitous counterproductive obstacles to diplomacy are not in the U.S. interest either, but I’ll let my colleague address those.”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO:  “Not much more to add other than, again, this is a common-sense shift that would allow us to effectively use the UN Security Council to address Iran’s nuclear program.  So this is about getting back to diplomacy, as my colleague was talking about, but also making sure that we can work effectively in the UN system.  When we’re outvoted 14 to 1, it’s very hard for us to work effectively in the Security Council.  This gets us back into a position where we can work within that framework and work with our closest allies in particular on addressing our concerns with Iran going forward.

QUESTION:  “Are Russia and China playing any kind of positive role here?  What have your consultations been like with them?  And then the statement with the EU mentioned hostages.  Has the U.S. reached out to Iran on that subject separately?  Are you working together with the EU on that?  And do you see the Iranian mission at the UN as a place to have those kinds of talks?”

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  “On Russia and China, they say that they want to see Iran come back into compliance and the U.S. come back into compliance.  They have also – they said – so the general posture has been positive.  I think in terms of seeing whether the sides could take steps that are more productive than what’s occurred in the past, we’ll have to see when we get to the table how that unfolds.  They have taken the position that they wanted the U.S. to take some steps in advance, and we’ve told them that… the U.S. shouldn’t need to take steps simply to get back to the table.  Once we’re back at the table, all these issues will be up for discussion. 

“So in the past, Russia and China during the JCPOA negotiations played a productive, constructive role because they didn’t – they didn’t have an interest in seeing Iran acquire a nuclear weapon and they didn’t have an interest in seeing the conflict in the region.  One would expect that those same interests are at play and that despite other serious differences we may have with them on other files, that and on this one we could work together.

“On the hostages, I mean, that is a absolute priority for the President and for everyone who works for him.  It’s obviously outrageous that Iran would be playing with the lives of innocent Americans simply for the sake of seeking to extract other concessions from the U.S.  And so we’re going to be very firm and resolute in getting them out.  We will have our way of reaching out to Iran on that issue, and I’ll leave it at that.”

 

Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Britain, France and Germany 

February 18, 2021

“The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom and the U.S. Secretary of State held a virtual meeting, for the second time in this format since Secretary Blinken took office, to discuss Iran and other pressing issues. They reaffirmed the centrality of the transatlantic partnership in dealing with the security, climate, economic, health and other challenges the world faces. 

“Regarding Iran, the E3 and the United States expressed their shared fundamental security interest in upholding the nuclear non-proliferation regime and ensuring that Iran can never develop a nuclear weapon. In this context, the conclusion of the JCPOA was a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy. The E3 welcomed the United States’ stated intention to return to diplomacy with Iran as well as the resumption of a confident and in-depth dialogue between the E3 and the United States. The Ministers affirmed strong interest in continuing their consultations and coordination, including with China and Russia, on this key security issue, recognizing the role of the High Representative of the European Union as Coordinator of the Joint Commission. 

“The E3 and the United States affirmed their shared objective of Iran’s return to full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA. Secretary Blinken reiterated that, as President Biden has said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end. 

“In this context, the E3 and the US called on Iran not to take any additional steps, in particular with respect to the suspension of the Additional Protocol and to any limitations on IAEA verification activities in Iran. The E3 and the United States are united in underlining the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access, and urge Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity. They reiterated their full support for the professional and impartial role of the IAEA and its Director General and their efforts to implement the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.

“The E3 and the United States also expressed their shared concerns over Iran’s recent actions to produce both uranium enriched up to 20% and uranium metal. These activities have no credible civil justification. Uranium metal production is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.

“The E3 welcomed the prospect of a U.S. and Iranian return to compliance with the JCPOA. The E3 and the United States affirmed their determination to then strengthen the JCPOA and, together with regional parties and the wider international community, address broader security concerns related to Iran’s missile programs and regional activities. We are committed to working together toward these goals. 

“The Ministers also called on Iran to release all our arbitrarily detained nationals and reunite them with their families. They also expressed deep concern about the continuing grave human rights violations in Iran.

“The E3 and the United States look forward to engaging with partners in order to work together toward these key objectives.

“They expressed their joint determination to work toward de-escalating tensions in the Gulf region. They stressed in particular the urgency of ending the war in Yemen, while reaffirming their steadfast commitment to the security of their regional partners. On Yemen, the Ministers agreed to work closely together to support United Nations Special Envoy Griffiths’ efforts to end the war and to address the humanitarian crisis.  They expressed concern about the recent Houthi offensive against Marib and strikes against civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, calling upon the Houthis and all Yemeni parties to engage constructively in the political process. 

“On Iraq, the Ministers reiterated their condemnation of the February 15 rocket attack in Erbil.  They expressed their condolences for the victims, their families, and the Iraqi people and emphasized that attacks on U.S., Coalition and NATO personnel and facilities will not be tolerated.  Ministers reiterated their support for the Iraqi Government.”

 

U.S. Letter to the U.N. Security Council

 

Statements by Officials
 

President Joe Biden

Remarks at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 19, 2021: “The threat of nuclear proliferation also continues to require careful diplomacy and cooperation among us.  We need transparency and communication to minimize the risk of strategic misunderstanding or mistakes… That’s why we have said we're prepared to reengage in negotiations with the P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear program.  We must also address Iran’s destabilizing activities across the Middle East, and we're going to work in close cooperation with our European and other partners as we proceed.”

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken

BlinkenAddress to the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Feb. 22, 2021: “The United States remains committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. Diplomacy is the best path to achieve that goal. President Biden has said: if Iran comes back into strict compliance with the JCPOA, the United States is prepared to do the same. Working with allies and partners, we will strengthen the JCPOA and address other areas of concern, including Iran’s destabilizing regional behavior and ballistic missile development and proliferation. And Iran must comply with its safeguards agreements with the IAEA and its international obligations.”

Joint Statement with the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and Germany on February 18: “Secretary Blinken reiterated that, as President Biden has said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end.  

“In this context, the E3 and the US called on Iran not to take any additional steps, in particular with respect to the suspension of the Additional Protocol and to any limitations on IAEA verification activities in Iran. The E3 and the United States are united in underlining the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access, and urge Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity. They reiterated their full support for the professional and impartial role of the IAEA and its Director General and their efforts to implement the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. 

“The E3 and the United States also expressed their shared concerns over Iran’s recent actions to produce both uranium enriched up to 20% and uranium metal. These activities have no credible civil justification. Uranium metal production is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.”

 

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

SullivanInterview on CBS on Feb. 21, 2021: "We intend to very directly communicate with the Iranians about the complete and utter outrage, the humanitarian catastrophe that is the unjust, unlawful detention of American citizens in Iran."

Question: "Have you done that yet?"

Sullivan: "We intend to demand... we have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue, yes. And we will continue to do so as we go forward. And our strong message to the Iranians will be that we will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner. It will be a significant priority of this administration to get those Americans safely back home."

Question: "Has Tehran responded yet to the offer made this past week to begin nuclear talks? And does the offer still stand, given what Iran said overnight about perhaps unplugging or, you know, dismantling some of the video surveillance of its nuclear facilities?"

Sullivan: "Well, in order to answer that question, let me offer just a couple of basic propositions. First, Joe Biden is intent, determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Second, he believes that hardheaded, clear-eyed diplomacy is the best way to do that. And so he's prepared to go to the table to talk to the Iranians about how we get strict constraints back on their nuclear program. That offer still stands because we believe diplomacy is the best way to do it. Iran has not yet responded. But what's happened as a result is that the script has been flipped. It is Iran that is isolated now diplomatically, not the United States. And the ball is in their court."

 

White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki

PsakiPress Briefing on Feb. 22, 2021: “What Secretary Blinken’s announcement and what our announcement that came out last week is a reflection of is an openness to have a conversation, an openness to diplomacy. And that invitation was issued by the Europeans to invite us to invite the Iranians to the table to have a conversation.

“We have … sent no indication that we are willing to take additional steps in advance of that. What we’re willing to do is sit at a table and have a diplomatic conversation, because we are looking to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and we believe diplomacy is the best way to do that.”

“We’re going to work in partnership and through the P5+1 partners and allies we worked through for the first round of putting the JCPOA together. We’re waiting, at this point, to hear back.  The Europeans are waiting to hear back from the Iranians on whether they are open to that diplomatic conversation. “

Remarks on Air Force One on Feb. 19, 2021: “We share a goal with our P5+1 one partners, which is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. What was announced yesterday, and what the President reiterated today, is an openness to having a diplomatic conversation.

“The Europeans, who are hosts of that, have offered to host that, and we have accepted.  But that is about having a conversation at the table.  We don’t anticipate taking additional steps, as in … snapping back of sanctions in advance of that. This is about having a conversation about the path forward. And, yes, part of that, as we look ahead, would be a desire to have a conversation about their role in the region, their use of ballistic missiles, and that certainly is the administration’s objective.”

 

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price

Ned PricePress briefing on Feb. 22, 2021: “We do commend the professionalism that the IAEA has shown in its efforts to engage Iran on maintaining the necessary cooperation to verify Iran’s nuclear program in light of Tehran’s announcement that it will cease implementation of the Additional Protocol and JCPOA verification measures on February 23rd.

“We are, of course, concerned to hear that Iran intends to cease implementation of the Additional Protocol and other measures this week. We note the announcement that Iran will continue to implement its obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA fully and without limitation, and that the IAEA and Iran have reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding regarding verification and monitoring activities. We fully support the IAEA director general’s efforts to this end while also reiterating the call on Iran to fully meet its verification and other nuclear nonproliferation commitments.”

Press Briefing on Feb. 19, 2021: “Regardless of the UN’s Iran sanctions architecture, we will continue to use our authorities to dissuade countries from providing arms to Iran.  So, there is certainly no change in our posture there at all.

“When it comes to the UN actions that were undertaken yesterday, let me just say a couple broad words. The steps we took were intended to remove unnecessary obstacles to diplomacy. We removed recent restrictions on domestic travel for Iranian representatives at the UN, and we’re providing written notification to the Security Council that the United States no longer assesses the snapback of Iran-related UNSCRs has occurred. By reversing the previous administration’s imposition of additional movement restrictions on Iranian representatives, we are bringing domestic travel controls on Iranian representatives back in line with those on several other missions to the UN.  This is indeed a return to our longstanding posture with regards to domestic travel of Iranian representatives to the UN.”

“Snapback… was designed to help ensure Iran performed its JCPOA commitments. At present, no other members of the Security Council agree that previously terminated provisions of prior resolutions, in fact, snapped back in December, despite the position of the previous administration. When we were out of step with the other members of the Security Council, that deadlock weakened our ability to address Iran’s destabilizing activities. And reversing our snapback position, we calculated, would strengthen our ability to engage with the Security Council and with our closest allies and partners around the world on Iran. Indeed, reversing our snapback position, it strengthens our ability to engage with the Security Council on Iran, given that no other Security Council member agreed that snapback had occurred.”

“The E3 and the U.S. called on Iran not to take any additional steps, in particular with respect to the suspension of the Additional Protocol and to any limitations on IAEA verification activities in Iran. And the E3, the statement said, welcomed the prospect of a U.S. and Iranian return to compliance with the JCPOA. The E3 and the United States affirmed their determination to then strengthen the JCPOA and, together with regional parties and the wider international community, address broader security concerns related to Iran’s missile programs and regional activities. We are committed to working together toward these goals, so said that joint statement.”

Statement on Feb. 18, 2021: “The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”

 

Updated