Iran’s leadership is weighing up its options after efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which aimed to stop it making a nuclear bomb, reached a crucial point this week. On Monday, the EU gave Iran and the US the “final text” to rescue the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was abandoned in 2018 by then President Donald Trump, who instead opted for a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against the Middle Eastern nation. The landmark agreement was signed by the US, Iran, Germany, France, the UK, Russia and China.
Under the accord, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme – which it insists is only for civilian use – in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran’s leadership is now mulling over whether to accept the “final text” after its negotiators returned to Tehran from the crunch talks with Washington in Vienna last week.
But hopes for a speedy conclusion are limited, given that Tehran has been notoriously slow to act since President Biden’s administration relaunched efforts to save the nuclear deal 16 months ago.
Critics of the US leader’s Iran strategy point out that he has given the country relief from sanctions and, through the talks, has allowed Tehran time to further develop its nuclear programme.
Andrea Stricker of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, who is a leading authority on Iran and nuclear weapons, has since torn apart Mr Biden’s Iran approach.
The expert, who is deputy director of the FDD’s nonproliferation and biodefense programme, accused the President of letting Tehran off the hook.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “I think Biden has presided over these advances.
“Whereas, under the Trump administration, Iran was more restrained with its nuclear advances.”
Mr Trump took a hardline stance on Iran, which included killing senior Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq in 2020.
The military chief, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, was assassinated alongside other Iran-backed militia figures as they were hit by missiles at Baghdad airport.
“Because he was willing to take out General Soleimani and was just less conciliatory towards them.”
Amid Mr Biden’s approach to the nuclear talks, there are fears that Iran could delay the negotiations to further advance its nuclear talks.
Ms Stricker warned of this outcome, saying that Tehran might try to play for time in a bid to secure “more concessions”.
Giving her prediction for the talks, she said: “I think it sounded like Tehran was still weighing this offer.
“And from my sense, they don’t have any buy-in from the Supreme Leader.
“So, they’re probably going to have to wait to see what his ultimate say is on this.
“They may try to drag things out like they have been for the last 16 months and try to make the other side give more concessions.”