“The current version of the text, and what they are asking for, abandons it,” the official said, noting that the United States has repeatedly and consistently denied the request. “So if we’re closer to an agreement, that’s why.”
The Iranians have also dropped demands related to the delisting of several IRGC-linked companies, the official said.
The official added that “the President has been firm and consistent that he will not lift the terrorism designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.” But the official said while a deal is now “closer than it was two weeks ago, the outcome remains uncertain as some gaps remain. President Biden will only endorse a deal that meets our national security interests”.
Progress from then on could be slow, another senior administration official said. But there seems to be more momentum now than there was last year.
The policy is one of several foreign policy decisions made by former President Donald Trump that Biden has upheld – the Trump administration designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019 as part of a “maximum pressure campaign imposed after Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018. The Biden administration also continued to impose new sanctions on Iran as nuclear deal talks continued.
Although the United States feels that a major hurdle has been removed, there are still other sticking points. These include Tehran’s desire for a guarantee that it will be compensated if a future US president backs out of the deal, and its demand for a closure of a three-year-old agency investigation. Atomic Energy International on its nuclear program.
The Biden administration’s position on these issues has not changed, officials told CNN. Iran has yet to explain to the IAEA why undeclared nuclear material – traces of uranium – was found at Iranian sites in 2019, officials said. And the United States also made it clear to Iran that it could not bind future administrations to the deal, or promise compensation if a U.S. president ever steps down, the officials said.
Politically, Republican opposition to the deal in the United States remains strong, even though delisting the IRGC is not part of the deal. This opposition has only grown in recent weeks with the Justice Department bringing charges against an Iranian who plotted to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton, and the attack on author Salman Rushdie which was hailed by Iranian officials. Republicans have also insisted they will try to block any sanctions relief Iran may get for returning to the JCPOA.
“Their deal dismantles sanctions against Iran’s economy and floods the regime with hundreds of billions of dollars, even as Iran attempts to hunt down and assassinate former US officials and dissidents on US soil,” he said. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to CNN. Cruz added that he was “determined to block and cancel this catastrophic agreement”.
For now, the United States is privately providing comments to the Europeans, a senior administration official said. But the United States has yet to formally respond to the EU and Iran plans, another administration official said.
“Like we do in the Biden administration, we’re doing our homework,” one of the senior administration officials said. “We are consulting with our interagency experts. And when we have prepared a response, we will send it back.”
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting.