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The New Arab Staff

Biden schedules National Security Council meeting over Iran

Blinken scheduled a meeting with the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany and France [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2021

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The meeting comes as Biden seeks to de-escalate diplomatic tensions with Tehran.
The White House scheduled a National Security Council committee meeting on Friday focused on Iran’s nuclear program, people familiar with the matter told Axios.

The Biden administration is still trying to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which Donald Trump’s administration crushed in 2018 with its “maximum pressure” campaign.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) aimed for Iran to ensure that it would not produce a nuclear weapon, in exchange for a gradual easing of international sanctions.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled a virtual meeting on Friday with the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Germany and France, with the Iran deal leading the agenda.

National Security adviser Jake Sullivan during a press conference on Thursday hinted at the administration's upcoming diplomatic push on Iran.

"We are actively engaged [with our European partners],” Sullivan said. "The consultations will produce a unified front when it comes to our strategy."

Trump withdrew from the agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran after claiming that it did not restrict Tehran’s ballistic missile program or address the government’s support for regional proxy factions.

Iran then reduced its own commitments to the deal and tensions between Tehran and Washington worsened.  

Washington's stance contrasted with that of London, Berlin and Paris, which still wanted to uphold the Iran deal.

Though Biden is more receptive towards Iran, he also wants to reassure Washington’s regional allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, that the US is still committed to curtailing Tehran’s uranium enrichment and nuclear ambitions.

Blinken last Thursday said Iran would first need to again comply with the deal’s terms before Washington lifts any sanctions.

“We are a long way from that point,” Blinken said last week.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday expressed alarm that Iran was now "much closer to the nuclear bomb" than when the deal was signed in Vienna in 2015.

Iran threatened to expel UN atomic agency inspectors unless US sanctions are lifted by February 21.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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