Talks to salvage the accord backslid as Tehran wanted to introduce “extraneous issues” on the agenda, the top US diplomat said
Iran has taken “A step back” in talks to revive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, making near-term agreement on the matter “Unlikely,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.
“What we’ve seen over the last week or so in Iran’s response to the proposal put forward by the European Union is clearly a step backward and makes prospects for an agreement in the near-term, I would say, unlikely,” Blinken told a press conference in Mexico City, where he held talks with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
According to Blinken, Iran is unwilling or unable to “do what’s necessary” to reach an agreement because Tehran wants to “Introduce extraneous points that reduce the likelihood of an agreement.”
The top US diplomat was referring to the “Final” text of the agreement to revive the deal, which was proposed by the EU on August 8. The US and Iran exchanged responses to the issue several times since then. However, a State Department spokesperson described Iran’s latest answer, which was submitted earlier this month, as “Not constructive.”
CNN reported that Iran has increased the pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA), to stop its investigation of undeclared uranium trace evidence found at Iranian sites. It said it was necessary in order to return to the accord. The US and the EU have repeatedly argued they couldn’t negotiate on behalf of the IAEA, insisting it was a separate issue unrelated to the nuclear agreement.
In late August, the US State Department expressed optimism regarding the prospects of a new agreement, saying it was “Encouraged by Iran’s apparent abandonment of some nonstarter requirements,” including the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an influential branch of Iranian Armed Forces, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.
The initial nuclear deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, UK, France, and Germany – as well as Russia, China, and the EU – saw Tehran agree to certain restrictions on its nuclear industry in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions and other incentives.
However, the agreement was torpedoed on 2018 by Donald Trump (the US’s then-President) who unilaterally withdrew his support for it, declaring it fundamentally flawed.
Iran has been gradually decreasing its commitments to the accord. For example, Iran is reducing the amount of enriched Uranium that it produces. These changes could possibly allow Tehran the ability to create an atomic weapon. According to the Iranian authorities, however, this “This is not the agenda.”