As President Joe Biden makes his opening moves to revive and build upon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Iran fueled its pressure campaign on the West by saying it will begin to offer United Nations inspectors less access to its nuclear program. (Feb. 23)
MATTHEW LEE: We're only a month in to the administration. Things can change rather rapidly, or they can change very slowly. I don't think we're at a new crisis point yet, but things haven't gotten any better. That's for sure.
You can make the case, I suppose, that it was not the worst-case scenario. The Iranians didn't completely withdraw and cut off all cooperation with the UN. But at the same time, the amount of access that the IAEA has now to Iran's nuclear sites is less than it was just a week ago before the Biden administration started making its overtures. All of the sanctions that the Trump administration had reimposed remain in place.
What the Biden administration has done, though, is to say, one, we are ready to come back to the table and negotiate. Number two, we have withdrawn the previous administration, the Trump administration's, determination that Iran was in significant non-performance of its obligations under the nuclear deal. And therefore, all UN sanctions must be restored. So that's been taken away.
Now, their argument would be, of course, that the Americans withdrew from the nuclear deal, and so they have to come back into compliance too. But it's a little bit of a who goes first here. Who comes back into compliance first? What needs to be done? And I think that's going to be a main point if and when this meeting ever happens, is which country decides to make the first move if, in fact, they want to try to go back to resurrecting the nuclear deal.