Matthew Brown

Iran sanctions not negotiable; will work with allies on China


President Joe Biden had a easy response when requested whether or not his administration would raise sanctions on Iran to deliver the nation again to the negotiating desk: “No.”

The president’s feedback, which got here throughout an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Nora O’Donnell, have been a part of a broader commentary on American overseas coverage underneath the Biden administration.

Biden elaborated that Iran would wish to cease enriching nuclear fissile materials earlier than the United States would rejoin negotiations with the nation.

In 2015, the Obama administration negotiated a deal during which main European nations, Russia and China would raise financial sanctions on Iran in alternate for the nation limiting its nuclear program. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal, which he’d stated was too lenient.

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The Trump administration then pursued a “maximum pressure” marketing campaign towards Iran, levying additional sanctions towards the nation and taking extra militant steps towards Iranian operatives, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the Trump administration designated as a terrorist group.

On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated the U.S. would wish to raise sanctions earlier than Iran meets its commitments underneath the nuclear deal.

On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a number of European signatories to the Iran deal, together with France, Germany and the United Kingdom, to debate steps shifting ahead for engagement with Iran. Top U.S. officers additionally convened a gathering to debate the U.S. stance within the Middle East that very same day.

“The Trump administration put Iran in a box,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., advised Margaret Brennan throughout a Sunday interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “I think Iran is weaker today than they’ve been since the regime was started about 40 years ago. So if I were President Biden, I would keep the sanctions on until Iran changed its behavior.”

Graham, a longtime Iran hawk and shut Trump ally who as soon as known as Iranian leaders “religious Nazis,” cautioned that “because Trump did it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. So, I would slow down if I were President Biden and reevaluate some of these Trump policies and keep them in place if they make sense.”

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In the CBS News interview, Biden additionally addressed the U.S.-China relationship, reflecting on his previous experiences with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Well, we haven’t had occasion to talk to him yet,” Biden stated of why he hadn’t spoken with the Chinese chief since his swearing-in. “There’s no reason not to call him. I probably spent more time with Xi Jinping, I’m told, than any world leader has, because I had 24, 25 hours of private meetings with him when I was vice president. Traveled 17,000 miles with him. I know him pretty well.”

Biden and Xi have been each vice presidents of their respective international locations in 2011 and 2013 when Biden visited China. Biden once more engaged then-President Xi throughout a 2015 go to to Iowa.

U.S.-China relations, already on the decline when Biden and Xi met, have since deteriorated additional after years of extra aggressive posturing from the Trump administration and an emboldened China. Biden assured O’Donnell that there remained “a lot to talk about” with Xi, however was clear-eyed about competitors with China.

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“He’s very bright. He’s very tough. He doesn’t have – and I don’t mean it as a criticism, just the reality – he doesn’t have a democratic, small D, bone in his body,” Biden stated of Xi.

“I’ve said to him all along, that we need to not have a conflict. But there’s going to be extreme competition. And I’m not going to do it the way that he knows. And that’s because he’s sending signals as well. I’m not going to do it the way Trump did. We’re going to focus on international rules of the road,” Biden stated, signaling a return to a extra multilateral strategy that will see the U.S. work with different international locations to counter and negotiate with China.

The remainder of Biden’s interview with CBS News will air at 4 p.m. EST, one hour earlier than the Super Bowl.