November 25, 2020

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Neither GOP Nor Dems Will Support New Iran Nuclear Deal Without Changes, Senior US Diplomat Says

Neither of America’s two major parties will agree to return Washington to the Iran nuclear deal without modifications, US special representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams has said.

“I think there is no desire on the part of the United States simply to return to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] without changes or modifications. I think this is a bipartisan position in the US,” Abrams said, speaking to the UAE’s Emirates News Agency on Thursday.

“Even if you liked it in 2015, it really does not serve in 2021 and there will have to be changes, so I think it is not a day one matter. It’s a complicated and somewhat lengthy negotiation,” the Trump official, known for coordinating Washington’s ongoing coup attempt in Venezuela, added.

Suggesting that the US’s economic pressure campaign against Iran was working, Abrams noted that “if that leverage is used, it will be possible to get them to agree to do things they don’t want to do, namely change their behaviour in the region, their missile programme and their nuclear programme. It would be a tragic thing to discard all of this leverage without using it.”
Abrams also argued that one of the JCPOA’s major flaws was its supposed failure to handle the danger posed by Iran’s conventional missile programme, alleging that “we see them in the hands of the Houthi [militia in Yemen] who used them under Iranian guidance and instructions to hit Saudi Arabia.”

Iran Says No to JCPOA Renegotiation

Iranian officials have stated repeatedly in recent weeks that Tehran would not be willing to ‘renegotiate’ or modify in any way the JCPOA nuclear deal which Washington walked out on in 2018. Speaking to US media ahead of the November 3 election, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said the Islamic Republic and the US “can find a way to re-engage, obviously. But re-engagement does not mean renegotiation. It means the US combing back to the negotiating table.”

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh echoed Zarif’s sentiments, saying the JCPOA “can’t be reopened by anyone,” and adding that what was needed most of all was “a change in thinking and mentality of the US decision-makers.” The US, he said, “has inflicted material damage on the Iranian people,” and “should be held accountable for its illegal, anti-international, anti-Iranian behaviour.”

Iran has amassed a major arsenal of domestically-developed ballistic and cruise missiles in recent years, and has resisted pressure from the US and its European allies to limit its missile capabilities, citing its need to be able to defend against foreign aggression in the absence of another deterrent, and emphasizing its rights to do so under international law.

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