US envoy for Iran says Biden returning to Iran deal not a given

Elliott Abrams told reporters that the United States will continue to sanction Iran as long as Donald Trump is president.

al-monitor Elliott Abrams (L), the US special representative for Iran and Venezuela, listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on US policy in the Middle East on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 24, 2020. Photo by SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 10, 2020

The Trump administration’s envoy for Iran has dismissed the idea that the United States could easily return to the Iran deal under Joe Biden following the former vice president’s projected victory in the US presidential election.

Speaking to reporters in Israel on Monday, Elliott Abrams said it is unclear whether the United States can reenter the agreement, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Whether it is possible to go back to the JCPOA remains to be seen,” said Abrams, as reported by The Associated Press.

The JCPOA, signed in 2015, removed international sanctions on Iran in exchange for the scaling down of its nuclear program. US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Biden was projected the winner of the US presidential election Saturday. The former vice president made his intentions to return to the deal under certain conditions clear during the race.

Abrams said US sanctions on Iran will continue as long as Trump is president.

“We have the maximum pressure sanctions program,” he said. “It will continue in November, it will continue in December, because it’s unrelated to politics, it’s unrelated to elections,” he said.

Trump and other administration officials have yet to concede the election amid claims of voter fraud. Abrams appeared to leave the door open for Trump to end up winning the election in his comments on Iran.

“It doesn’t really matter who is president on Jan. 20 in the sense that there’s going to be a negotiation with Iran anyway,” he said.

Returning to the Iran deal is not guaranteed, despite Biden’s intentions. The Iranian government said it is not interested in the United States rejoining the agreement following Biden’s projected victory. Senate Republicans could also block Biden’s actions on Iran.

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