Discreetly, the Biden administration has resumed diplomatic talks with Iran. The discussions began in December in New York, involving senior officials from the United States and Iran, including Iran envoy Robert Malley and Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. White House officials made multiple trips to Oman to engage in indirect communications as the talks progressed. Omani officials have played a crucial role in relaying messages between the two sides, facilitating the ongoing dialogue.
Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran'sIran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs and chief negotiator, has met recently with representatives from Germany, France, and the UK (signatories to the JCPOA). At the same time, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan'ani said, "Iran's government has never left the negotiation table and has shown its readiness to conduct serious and substantive negotiations."
The Western nations are seeking specific de-escalation measures from Iran, which include halting the accumulation of 60%-enriched material and abandoning plans to install and operate advanced centrifuges. These advanced machines enable faster uranium enrichment. These steps are essential to ease tensions and promote stability in the region. The Western powers aim to prevent further nuclear proliferation by urging Iran to refrain from pursuing these activities.
The current negotiations aim to cool tensions and address issues such as prisoner releases and limits on nuclear work, emphasizing—Iran's uranium enrichment. At the same time, Iran seeks access to its frozen funds held abroad. Contacts between the two sides have resumed, and discussions have occurred in New York and Oman.
In a separate development, the US approved €2.5 billion in payments by the Iraqi government for Iranian electricity and gas imports. These funds had been frozen due to US economic sanctions. Iranian officials have repeatedly tied the possible release of prisoners to winning access to $7 billion in Iranian funds held in South Korea and demanded access to billions of dollars held in Iraq for gas and oil deliveries.
The discussions between the US and Iran come during heightened tensions. Iran has supplied stocks of "Kamikaze drones" (Shaed-136) to Russia, continued uranium enrichment, seized oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and cracked down on the protest.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that his government will not be obligated to adhere to any such agreement. Netanyahu has opposed the deal and emphasized that Israel will not be bound by its terms.
Iran is currently engaging in unproductive negotiations with the United States to gain concessions to ease sanctions and gain frozen assets. Since Biden took office, Iran has become more emboldened and has taken steps to advance it's nuclear and tested new ballistic missiles.