After last month quietly dropping sanctions on multiple Iranian entities amid ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna, the US Treasury Department on Friday announced the removal of sanctions against three more Iranian officials who have now had their access to their US assets restored.
However, like prior moves toward sanctions relief, the Biden administration is claiming this has nothing to do with Vienna nuclear talks, which have appeared stalled over the past weeks, given lack of any monumental breakthroughs and with both sides threatening to cut things off as neither side wants things to drag on indefinitely.
According to Axios, "Treasury officials said Behzad Ferdows, Mehrzad Ferdows and Mohammad Reza Dezfulian should not be sanctioned but that the roll back had nothing to do with ongoing indirect talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal."
"Their assets had been blocked under Executive Order 13382, which focuses on proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters," the report noted.
An unnamed Treasury official had sought to assure Reuters: "These delistings do not reflect any change in U.S. government sanctions policy towards Iran. They have nothing to do with ongoing JCPOA negotiations in Vienna."
The attorney representing the three Iranians had argued the US had "insufficient basis" for their initial designation, and thus he said "there was a dismissal of the claims" based on the legal flimsiness of the case.
Meanwhile, a feeling of distrust seems to continue to pervade the atmosphere in Vienna, given that days ago the Iranian side said it is requiring a "guarantee" that the US doesn't unilaterally leave the JCPOA deal again, as President Trump did in May 2018, after which unprecedented numbers of sanctions were slapped on Tehran.
The talks have gone on for three months and six rounds. Both sides have strongly signaled they wish to see a finalized restored deal before Iran's new president, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi takes office.