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US Says It Stands Ready To Rejoin Iran Nuclear Deal, But It’s More Complex Than The Stroke Of A Pen

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saied Khatibzadeh gestures during a press conference in Tehran on February 22, 2021. - Iran hailed as a "significant achievement" a temporary agreement Tehran reached with the head of the UN nuclear watchdog on site inspections. That deal effectively bought time as the United States, European powers and Tehran try to salvage the 2015 nuclear agreement that has been on the brink of collapse since Donald Trump withdrew from it. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saied Khatibzadeh gestures during a press conference in Tehran on February 22, 2021.

The Biden administration said Thursday it's ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, in a sharp repudiation of former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” that sought to isolate the Islamic Republic.

The United States is prepared to return to the Iran nuclear deal if Tehran shows “strict compliance” with it, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday. It's a new sign of Washington’s ambition to revive the deal rejected by former President Donald Trump even as Tehran appears to be backing further away from it. 

Speaking to the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament, Blinken laid out a U.S. wish list about many issues including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and space-borne threats in the future. He expressed concerns about a Russian anti-satellite weapons test last year and China’s “provocative and dangerous weapons development programs,” in addition to the message about Iran. 

Blinken’s comments by video signaled another step by the Biden administration to re-engage with many international institutions and agreements that were shunned, rejected or largely ignored by Trump. It is the first time in years a top U.S. diplomat has spoken to the disarmament body, which has become mainly a venue for countries to voice concerns about disarmament because it has failed to usher in any accords. On Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi told reporters after an emergency trip to Tehran that Iran’s government would begin offering “less access” to U.N. weapons inspectors - involving unspecified changes to the type of activity the agency can carry out.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll look at the process of the U.S. rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, the hurdles that remain, and what it all portends for the future of foreign relations between the U.S. and Iran.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Farnaz Fassihi, reporter covering Iran for the International Desk of The New York Times; she tweets

Benjamin Radd, teaching fellow at the UCLA International Institute’s Center for Middle East Development, and a lecturer in political science and public affairs; he tweets

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