The United States (US) is offering its E3 European allies (United Kingdom, France and Germany) to extend sanctions relief for Iran past an upcoming May 12 deadline in exchange for improvements to the international nuclear agreement with Tehran, according to a State Department diplomatic cable seen by Reuters.
“We are asking for your commitment that we should work together to seek a supplemental or follow-on agreement that addresses Iran’s development or testing long-range missiles, ensures strong IAEA inspections, and fixes the flaws of the ‘sunset clause,'” the cable said.
Reuters reported that several former US State Department employees assessed the cable to be “softer” than President Donald Trump’s statement in January calling for “agreement to fix the terrible flaws” of the nuclear agreement.
“The president, to me, was holding out a higher standard,” said former US State Department spokesperson, Richard Boucher according to Reuters.
“They have to agree and negotiate and we have to get an agreement, whereas the other one was (saying) we have to get their commitment to go down this road.”
Although the hope is that the “softer” position in the diplomatic cable will help to achieve a meeting of the minds, the E3 are still uncertain about working towards such ends. Their concern, according to two European officials and two former U.S. officials as reported by Reuters, is that Trump may subsequently ask for more demands.
The US is currently pursuing a two-step process with the E3 to reach a meeting of the minds regarding the weaknesses of the nuclear agreement.
“We want a commitment from them that these are the deficiencies that need to be addressed and an agreement that we will seek an agreement,” Reuters quoted a senior US State Department official as saying.
If all goes well in the first stage, then the US would approach the other parties to the agreement, which include Russia, China and Iran. The plan thereforth would be to modify the agreement either by adding amendments, a supplemental agreement or alternatively, a United Nations Security Council resolution that would not need the consent of Iran.
Reuters added in its report that the next scheduled meeting between US and E3 officials will take place on Tuesday in Paris.