Senate Democrats urge Biden to return to the Iran nuclear deal

Twenty-seven U.S. Senate Democrats support U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to return to the Iran nuclear deal. It was reported on April 13 by Democratic Party representatives led by Senators Chris Murphy (R-Connecticut) and Tim Kaine (R-Virginia).

“One of your early urgent national security priorities should be a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to address the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program,” they said.

Democrats said they strongly support a return to the JCPOA and using a compliance-by-compliance approach as a starting point for a reset between the United States and Iran. That is, if Tehran is willing to return to compliance with the restrictions that are set by the JCPOA, the United States should be willing to join the deal and provide the sanctions relief required under the agreement.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said April 13 that the country would begin enriching uranium to 60 percent as of April 14. He noted that Tehran was going to install 1,000 new centrifuges at the nuclear facility in Natanz. Iran has already informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its plans.

The United States considered Iran’s statement about enriching uranium up to 60% provocative. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the United States is expecting the negotiations on the nuclear deal to continue.

On April 12, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres urging the United States to stop using nuclear terrorism to influence the negotiations on the nuclear deal.

On April 11, an accident was reported in the electricity distribution network at the Natanz nuclear facility. Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behruz Kamalvandi said the next day that the accident was caused by a small explosion. No one was injured as a result of the accident. Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi called the accident an act of terrorism.

The JCPOA was concluded in 2015, it was supposed to remove sanctions from Iran in exchange for limiting the country’s nuclear program. In May 2018, the United States withdrew from the deal and reinstated tough sanctions on Tehran. In turn, Iran in 2019 announced a gradual reduction of its obligations under the agreement.