According to a non-public notification sent to Congress and obtained by American political journalism website the Washington Free Beacon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken authorized the waivers on January 31, but Congress was not notified of the decision until late on February 3, after the Free Beacon began making inquiries about the exemptions.
The waivers permit Russian state corporations, such as the Rosatom nuclear company, to operate at Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility.
Another waiver allows Iran to pay Russia to provide it with limited amounts of enriched uranium, which is used to power the Tehran-based research reactor – a light-water nuclear reactor given to Iran by the United States in 1967 to produce radio isotopes for medical and agricultural purposes.
Russia can also continue performing work at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran.
Iran has continued to denounce Washington’s “paradoxical approach” in the course of negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the nuclear agreement.
“Their stances are negative, while their behavior and messages, sent via intermediaries, are something else,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani stated in late December.
This comes as senior congressional sources have noted the Joe Biden administration is trying to sweep Iran sanctions waivers under the rug amid Western concerns about Tehran and Moscow’s military cooperation.
In recent months, Washington has used the foreign-backed deadly unrest in Iran and unsubstantiated reports of drone delivery to Russia to up the ante against the Islamic Republic through several rounds of sanctions.
Observers believe US officials are trying to use these baseless accusations against Iran to gain leverage in the Vienna talks and negotiate from a position of strength.