US President Joe Biden sits in his office in Washington. File photo
The US Treasury hit Iran's drone programme with sanctions on Friday, boosting pressure on Tehran ahead of the reopening of negotiations on the country's nuclear programme.
As Iran’s nuclear programme makes troubling advances, President Joe Biden is set to huddle on Saturday with European allies to talk through strategy as they press for a diplomatic resolution — and to plan for the possibility Iran declines to return to the negotiating table.
The Treasury said lethal unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have been used to attack US forces and international shipping in the Gulf region.
The drones have also been supplied to Hezbollah, Hamas, and Yemen's Houthis, and have additionally been seen in Ethiopia, "where the escalating crisis threatens to destabilise the broader region," the Treasury said.
The sanctions singled out Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani, who leads the Revolutionary Guards' UAV Command.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attends a meeting. File photo
The meeting with the leaders of Germany, France, and Britain — known as the E3 — comes at a pivotal time, as Iran continues to enrich uranium to near-weapons-grade levels. Biden is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and bring Iran back into compliance with the pact that would have kept the Islamic republic at least one year away from the potential to field a nuclear weapon.
The UN’s atomic watchdog has said Iran is increasingly in violation of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal and the US has participated indirectly in talks aimed at bringing both Washington and Tehran back into compliance. Those Vienna talks have been on hiatus since June, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took power.
Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union remain part of the deal.
Saturday's meeting follows days after Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator for the talks, tweeted that Iran has agreed to restart negotiations by the end of November and a date for a resumption of talks "would be announced in the course of the next week.”
Washington has finally decided to address seriously the campaign pledge by President Joe Biden to re-join the 2015 agreement for limiting Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions.
On Friday, the United States restored sanctions waiver over Iran’s nuclear programme as the “indirect” – that is unofficial – Iran-US talks
Iran says it is not respecting the terms of the deal because the US pulled out of it first. Iran has demanded the restoration of all sanctions relief it was promised under the deal to return to compliance.
The move comes to ensure rights protection of both parties in a balanced manner, promote the growth and stability of the labor market, and enhance the economic competitiveness of the UAE.
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