After six months of President Biden in office, and repeatedly dashed hopes at a nuclear deal with Iran, failing to come to an agreement means instead of lifting sanctions the U.S. is considering putting restrictions on oil sales between Iran and China.
This week, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that new sanctions could go into effect if Iran does not agree to a nuclear deal. The U.S. hopes that by threatening one of Iran’s most important markets, owing to the current sanctions, it will put pressure on Iran to come to a nuclear agreement sooner rather than later.
The U.S. has been working with European and international partners in Vienna in recent months in an effort to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reducing sanctions on the country’s oil sales in return for nuclear cooperation.
At present, Iran exports around a million barrels a day of crude to China, in a growing trade route that’s been overlooked by the U.S. as nuclear talks looked increasingly promising. However, the U.S. may persuade Iran’s top importer, as well as another major importer India, to cut imports from the oil-rich state.
However, nuclear talks between the two countries are expected to be on hold until at least August after Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, is sworn into office at the beginning of the month. After this, a seventh-round of negotiations is expected to take place in Vienna to attempt an agreement on nuclear deal and sanction reductions, according to officials.
Sanctions have been in place on Iranian oil since President Donald Trump removed the JCPOA in 2018, leading to Iran breaking the agreement’s nuclear covenants in response.
But Iran looks to be in no rush to curb its nuclear activities as Tehran has reached near purity in its enriched uranium, which would make it possible to create atomic weapons, as well as preparing the foundations to bring thousands of centrifuges online in 2021.