Report: Biden to Pressure UAE to Tighten Enforcement of Iran Sanctions as Nuke Talks Stall

A high-profile delegation sent to the Gulf monarchy looks to tighten enforcement against Iran's second-largest trade partner in the shadow of nuclear negotiations, the Wall Street Journal reports

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A general view of Abadan oil refinery in southwest Iran in 2019.
A general view of Abadan oil refinery in southwest Iran in 2019.Credit: ESSAM AL-SUDANI/ REUTERS

The Biden administration is moving to tighten enforcement of sanctions against Iran and send a top-level delegation to the United Arab Emirates next week, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing senior U.S. officials.

The United Arab Emirates is a key U.S. ally but is also Iran's second-largest trade partner. 

The delegation, which will include the head of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Andrea Gacki, will warn private firms and banks in the UAE that they "face extreme risk" if sanctioned trade continues, the newspaper said, and could even lead to further sanctions against Emirati firms.

The visit will include meetings with petrochemicals companies and other private firms and banks in the Gulf monarchy.

A State Department spokesperson said the United States had evidence of non-compliance, and that the banks could later be sanctioned or penalized over their dealings.

President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.Credit: Susan Walsh,AP

UAE authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

The move comes in the shadow of talks between Tehran and world powers over its nuclear program, which are set to resume in Vienna later in the day.

Meanwhile, Talks to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal formally resumed on Thursday with a meeting of the remaining parties except for the United States, Russia's top envoy to the talks said on Twitter.

"The #JCPOA participants now hold an official meeting of the Joint Commission," Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted, using the deal's formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The top U.S. envoy, Rob Malley, will not arrive until this weekend.

The indirect U.S.-Iranian talks in Vienna, in which other diplomats from the remaining parties to the deal – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance.

Under the 2015 accord struck by the Islamic Republic and six major powers, Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and UN sanctions.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions, and Iran began violating the nuclear restrictions a year later.

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