US envoy says it will be hard to re-enter Iran nuclear deal

JERUSALEM (AP) — The U.S. envoy for Iran says the Trump administration will maintain its pressure campaign until the inauguration and anticipates it will be difficult for a future President Joe Biden to bring the U.S. back into the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Elliott Abrams spoke to local journalists on Monday during a visit to Israel, which was staunchly opposed to the nuclear agreement.

“It doesn’t really matter who is president on Jan. 20 in the sense that there’s going to be a negotiation with Iran anyway,” Abrams said, echoing the Trump administration’s position that the U.S. election results are not final until they have been officially certified.

“Whether it is possible to go back to the JCPOA remains to be seen,” he added, referring to the Iran deal.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he hopes to return the U.S. to the agreement with world powers, in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018 and imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran, which responded by publicly abandoning nuclear restrictions in the agreement.

Abrams said all U.S. sanctions, including those related to human rights issues and Iran’s support for regional militant groups, would remain in place through Jan. 20.

“We have the maximum pressure sanctions program,” he said. “It will continue in November, it will continue in December, because it’s unrelated to politics, it’s unrelated to elections.”

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