Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that U.S. sanctions against Russia are not intertwined with the Biden administration’s attempt to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal.
“The sanctions that are being put in place and that have been put in place on Russia have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal and the prospects of getting back into that agreement. These things are totally different and are just are not in any way linked together, so I think that’s irrelevant,” Mr. Blinken said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“The question is getting back into the deal,” he said. “Clearly, if we can do it in our interest, getting out of the deal was one of the worst mistakes that’s been made in recent years. It let the entire Iranian nuclear program that we put in a box out of the box. And so if there’s a way of getting back to reimplementing that deal effectively, it’s in our interest to do it.”
Mr. Blinken was responding to a question from host Margaret Brennan about Russia‘s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, who claimed that he personally wants Mr. Blinken to give him a written guarantee of exemptions from sanctions in order to keep cooperation on the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The 2015 deal — signed by the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Iran — granted sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic in exchange for it curbing its nuclear activities. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in May 2018.
Mr. Blinken said the Biden administration is working to get back into the nuclear deal. He said getting back into the Iran deal is in “Russia‘s interest, irrespective of anything else for Iran not to be able to have a nuclear weapon or at have the capacity to produce a weapon on very, very short order.”
Republicans have been taken aback at the administration’s push to reopen talks to re-establish the JCPOA, signed by former President Barack Obama.
“We are alarmed that the Biden Administration may be preparing to evade the clear requirements of the law by pretending that a new deal is somehow a ‘continuation of’ or ‘return to’ the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was submitted to Congress back in 2015,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Michael McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in letter Saturday to Mr. Blinken.