Axios has a new report underscoring the "urgency President Biden feels about Iran" - given on Friday the White House is convening a National Security Council principals committee meeting focused on what to do about the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. This after within the past week multiple international headlines suggested (somewhat misleadingly) that Iran is "weeks away" from being capable of producing a nuclear weapon.
Biden campaigned firmly on a commitment to immediately restore US participation in the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) brokered under the Obama administration; however, this is already stalled given the White House position that Tehran must return to conformity to uranium enrichment and other caps stipulated by the deal.
Iran has of course responded by saying it's exclusively the US side (under Trump) which broke off the deal, thus it's up for Washington to "move first" by dropping all sanctions which have served to cripple the Iranian economy.
Here are the key details regarding Friday's high level NSC meeting, according to Axios:
- Principals committee meetings — held in the Situation Room and attended by the secretaries of Defense and State and other key national security players — are designed to discuss policy at the highest level before presenting recommendations to the president.
- One of the main action items Friday is whether to push toward returning to the nuclear deal before the June presidential elections in Iran or wait until after, a source familiar with the issue said
Earlier in the week national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that "We are actively engaged" with European partners, and further, "The consultations will produce a unified front when it comes to our strategy."
The statement came in response to European Union offers to mediate a full restoration of of the JCPOA, which initially Washington seemed to rebuff.
On Thursday French President Emmanuel Macron put forward a plan for him to personally act as a broker for renewed talks. However Iran has viewed any offer for "stricter" talks that would move the goal posts in terms of the deal with hostility.
"I do believe we do need to finalize, indeed, a new negotiation with Iran," Macron said. "We have to address ballistic missile issues, and we have to address the stability of the region, and this comprehensive agenda is to be negotiated now," he added.
Again, Iran has spoken out vehemently against anything that resembles "new negotiations" while insisting it's up for the side that tore up the deal in the first place to show that it can conform first.