The Biden administration on Friday waived sanctions related to Iran’s civilian nuclear activities, reversing the Trump administration’s decision to rescind them.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers related to Iran’s civilian nuclear activities which would exempt foreign countries and companies that work in Iran’s civilian nuclear sector from American penalties.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the sanctions waivers on Friday, said that they are aimed at turning Iran’s heavy-water Arak reactor into a less dangerous light-water reactor and also apply to the export of enriched uranium and heavy water outside of Iran. The waivers would also allow fuel to be sent to two reactors used for civilian purposes.
The move comes as the Biden administration hopes to entice Iran back to the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions.
Trump administration withdrew from that deal in 2018 before reimposing tight sanctions on the country.
Former President Donald Trump had severely criticized the deal even before his presidential campaign began, calling it a “horrible, one-sided deal that should have never been made.”
“The waiver with respect to these activities is designed to facilitate discussions that would help to close a deal on a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA and lay the groundwork for Iran’s return to performance of its JCPOA commitments,” the State Department said in a notice to Congress that announced the move last week.
“It is also designed to serve U.S. nonproliferation and nuclear safety interests and constrain Iran’s nuclear activities,” the department said. “It is being issued as a matter of policy discretion with these objectives in mind, and not pursuant to a commitment or as part of a quid pro quo. We are focused on working with partners and allies to counter the full range of threats that Iran poses.”
Friday’s decision comes following last month’s eighth round of indirect negotiations between the United States and Iran which was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, and Iran, in the Austrian capital of Vienna, regarding the nuclear deal.
The United States has been participating indirectly in the talks because Iran refuses direct contact.