August 19, 2022
The White House denied reports on Thursday that the US has made new concessions to Iran as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal approach their 500th day.
London-based Iran International had earlier published a list of reported concessions the Biden administration had agreed to in a bid to get Iran to come back into full compliance with the deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The Biden administration has repeatedly stated its belief that reviving the deal would be the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, something which US officials have said was “weeks away” for several months now.
“Reports that we have accepted or are considering new concessions to Iran as part of reentering the 2015 nuclear deal are categorically false,” National Security Council Spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement to Al Arabiya English.
The outlet said it obtained a list of concessions the US agreed to, which include the removal of sanctions on 17 banks, the immediate release of $7 billion worth of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea and the annulment of multiple Executive Orders signed by former US President Donald Trump.
Other concessions Iran International reported include sanctions relief of over 100 institutions and the guaranteed sale of 50 million barrels of Iranian oil in 120 days.
In the event that the US withdraws from the deal again, which is highly likely under a future Republican administration, Iran International reported that foreign companies would be exempt from US sanctions as part of the new concessions.
After more than a year of indirect talks and stalling mechanisms by Iran, the EU proposed a final text to Iran and the US at the start of this month, asking for a response within a few weeks.
Despite the EU saying there was no more room for negotiations, Tehran made several remarks and sent back its response to the EU, which in turn passed along the comments to the US.
Washington has yet to respond.
A White House official told Al Arabiya English that the US had taken “a deliberate and principled approach to these negotiations from the start,” adding that if Iran was ready to comply with the 2015 deal, then the US was prepared to do the same.
As for Iran’s comments on the EU proposed final text, the White House official said they were still studying them. “Our communication with the EU is private. We have been in touch with them regularly throughout the process,” the official told Al Arabiya English.
It was also reported on Thursday that the deal would include the swap of prisoners. At least four Americans are detained in Iran.
Israel hits out at concessions to Iran
Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid was quoted as saying the time had come “to walk away from the [negotiation] table.”
An Israeli official briefed reporters in Israel on a meeting Lapid had with US Congressman Ted Deutch and the US ambassador to Israel. “Anything else sends a message of weakness to Iran,” the Israeli premier reportedly said.
Lapid also reportedly told the Deutch and the US ambassador, Thomas Nides, that the EU proposal added more concessions for Iran than the deal reached in 2015.
Lapid’s comments come after the State Department claimed that countries that were “not wild” about the deal in 2015, including Israel and multiple GCC countries, had “over the years changed their tune on the JCPOA.”
In response to a question from Al Arabiya English on Tuesday, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said formal statements from Gulf partners showed support for the US’s efforts to achieve a joint return to compliance with the JCPOA.
Specifically, on Israel, Price said: “We’ve seen senior officials within Israel, including its security establishment, make a very similar case, that it was a disastrous decision on the part of the last administration to walk away from the JCPOA and to make the case that the JCPOA is now the best alternative to the specter of an Iranian nuclear weapon.”
Price was referring to security officials, former and current, who had conveyed their belief that the JCPOA was a good move to ensure Iran didn’t acquire a nuclear weapon.
But Lapid’s reported remarks on Thursday suggest otherwise.