The announcement follows the US blockade of more than 30 Iranian websites

Iran announces that the United States will lift oil sanctions

PHOTO/AFP - Iranian-flagged oil tanker Fortune

The return to the nuclear deal is turning into a never-ending story. Six rounds of negotiations have already taken place and a seventh is awaited since the US and Iran decided to sit down to negotiate last April. Four months have passed and the same obstacles that existed in April remain today. The messages from the negotiating parties have often been contradictory.

While at the end of a negotiation round the parties assess the meeting positively and anticipate an imminent agreement, in the following negotiation round the message is completely the opposite. During the sixth and final round of talks in Vienna, the mediators went even further and predicted that a return to the 2015 nuclear deal could take place before August. This is a key date as Iran's newly elected president, Ebrahim Rashi, is scheduled to be sworn in on 3 August. 

conversaciones viena pacto nuclear Irán

US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated his intention to bring back the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, despite the fact that this decision has cost him criticism from Israel, an ally in the region. For its part, the Islamic Republic has also shared its intention to return to the pact; in fact, Iran's new president, Raisi, declared that he was in favour of continuing negotiations for a return to the 2015 nuclear pact, but established some red lines. It is these red lines in the case of both the Islamic Republic and the United States that prevent progress in the negotiation process and highlight a series of insurmountable differences between the two countries.

The mistrust between the two countries is one of the main stumbling blocks in the talks currently underway in Vienna. Since former US President Donald Trump's 2018 decision to unilaterally abandon the nuclear deal and impose sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic believes that this situation could repeat itself at any time. Since the United States decided to withdraw from the pact, Iran has been gradually skipping the agreement, enriching uranium to 60 per cent, while the pact provided for uranium enrichment to a maximum of 3.67 per cent. The Persian country has also threatened on more than one occasion to limit inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US is also wary of Iran's willingness to abandon its nuclear programme.

ebrahim raisi presidente iran

Iran has stated on several occasions that it should be the US that takes the first step, since it was the US that decided to withdraw from the agreement, and therefore lift the sanctions imposed on the Persian country. The United States has refused to be the one to take the first step, as it would indicate weakness. But according to Iranian state media, the US has agreed to remove all sanctions on Iran's oil and shipping. Mahmoud Vaezi, chief of staff to current Iranian president Hasan Rohani, said that "an agreement has been reached to remove all sanctions on insurance, oil and shipping that were imposed by Trump".

"About 1,040 Trump-era sanctions will be lifted under the deal. It was also agreed to lift some sanctions on individuals and members of the Supreme Leader's inner circle," Vaezi said. The United States has not commented on these statements, indeed, in his last speech after the latest round of negotiations in Vienna, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said there was still "a good distance to go", including on sanctions and nuclear commitments to be made by Iran.

portavoz del ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Saeed Khatibzadeh

The announcement comes just hours after the US announced the blocking of some 36 Iranian websites that the US accuses of disinformation or collaborating with the Kataeb Hezbollah organisation, designated as a terrorist group by Washington. Iran's response to the incident was swift. The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, described the measure as a "systematic attempt by the United States to restrict global freedom of expression".

According to the IRNA news agency, Khatibzadeh added that "the current US administration has followed exactly the path of the previous administration, and this policy will only lead to a double defeat for Washington". For his part, Mahmoud Vaezi stressed that this act "is not constructive" for the ongoing talks on the nuclear deal and that Iran "is using all international and legal means to condemn this misguided US policy", according to AFP. In this context, the announcement by the Iranian authorities that the United States has agreed to lift sanctions on oil could be a strategy to offer an image of weakness of the US in response to the blocking of several websites linked to the Islamic Republic.