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November 8, 2020 8:23 pm

Former Biden Aide Says President-Elect Will Reenter Iran Nuclear Deal as Trump Administration Prepares Raft of New Sanctions

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Democratic US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event devoted to the reopening of the US economy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 11, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Bastiaan Slabbers.

A former aide to Joe Biden said on Sunday that the president-elect is eager to rejoin the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, even as it was reported that the Trump administration is planning a raft of new sanctions on the Islamic Republic during its remaining two months in office.

The nuclear deal concluded by the Obama administration in 2015 placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. Critics, most notably Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attacked the deal as inadequate, saying it didn’t go far enough in preventing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, failed to rein in its sponsorship of terrorism, ballistic missile program, or expansionist ambitions. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

Biden’s former advisor Amos Hochstein told Channel 12 television that the president-elect will reenter the deal during his “first months” in office.

“We’ll either see him rejoin the deal fully, or what I would call ‘JCPOA-minus,’ meaning lifting sanctions in exchange for suspending some of the Iranian nuclear programs,” Hochstein said.

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However, he added, Biden wants “some changes” in the deal before reentering.

Hochstein also said that Biden favors a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and as president he will “bring back the Palestinian issue to the heart of the discourse.”

The Trump administration, however, appears determined not to allow its Iran policy to go quietly.

According  to Axios, the White House together with Israel and Gulf Arab states, will seek to impose a raft of new sanctions on Iran before leaving office.

The report states that Trump’s envoy on the Iranian issue, Elliott Abrams, met with Netanyahu on Sunday in Israel on the sanctions plan, and will meet shortly after with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the issue.

The sanctions will be announced on a weekly basis for the remainder of Trump’s term, and will not concentrate on Iran’s nuclear program — as the administration believes such sanctions would likely be canceled by Biden.

The targets of the sanctions will instead be Iran’s ballistic missile program and its sponsorship of regional terrorism.

Abrams will leave Israel later this week and go directly to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to discuss the plan.

Next week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in the region to visit Israel and several other neighboring countries, and will also concentrate on the Iran issue.

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