The Biden administration denies possibility of “interim” Iran nuclear deal

The Biden administration has categorically denied that an “interim” Iran nuclear deal is on the table. However, a report from a think tank suggests that there are indications of continued diplomatic discussions, possibly resulting in concessions from the incoming administration.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), stated that despite previous statements by the administration claiming that the Iran nuclear deal was not a priority, it appears they have been actively seeking a means to negotiate with Iran behind the scenes. He made these remarks to Fox News Digital.

Negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, hit a roadblock in late 2022. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that talks had regressed with Iran, who had been making demands unrelated to the JCPOA itself. Despite this setback, the administration remains committed to pursuing the deal as a way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and potentially transforming the Middle East’s political and security landscape.

Critics, including neighboring countries Israel and Saudi Arabia, argue that the deal will provide Iran with much-needed funds that it can direct towards proxy terrorist activities against its regional rivals.

A State Department spokesperson has reaffirmed that U.S. policy on Iran remains unchanged. Recent reports suggest that the U.S. is close to reaching a deal with Iran that would secure the release of U.S. citizens held in Iran and delay Iran’s nuclear program.

The spokesperson stated, “Secretary Blinken made it clear that there is no nuclear deal currently being negotiated. We have repeatedly advised Iran not to take actions that would escalate tensions and have emphasized the importance of de-escalation.”

Blinken also confirmed that while there is no agreement in immediate prospect, the U.S. is open to exploring diplomatic avenues.

Taleblu, along with Senior Advisor Richard Goldberg, co-authored a memo for the FDD that highlights several meetings that have occurred in the past few months. These meetings indicate that negotiations have been ongoing in a less formal and unofficial capacity.

In addition, discussions around the release of three prisoners held in Tehran have reportedly taken place between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. could potentially release around $7 billion in sanctioned funds held in escrow under U.S. sanctions laws in South Korea in exchange for the prisoners.

The head of the Central Bank of Iran, an institution sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), visited Washington in May for discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Reports have suggested that the U.S. is seeking an informal, unwritten agreement with Iran, referred to as a “political cease-fire,” to prevent further escalation. Allegedly, other talks on this matter have taken place in Oman.

In response to a question at a press briefing, a State Department spokesperson had no updates on efforts between Iran and Western nations to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The FDD disputes the likelihood of a gentleman’s agreement with Iran, arguing that Iran’s use of proxy fighters allows it to have deniability while still benefiting from billions of dollars. The FDD suggests that Iran has consistently narrowed the parameters of any accord to play hardball with the U.S.

The FDD also notes that the Biden administration would need to provide Congress with the plan for approval, as required by law, and there would be a 30-day waiting period before releasing the funds.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

*This content has been rewritten. Original article by Peter Aitken can be found on the Fox News website.

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