The United States has called Iran’s latest response in negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal “not constructive”.
The response came after Iranian state broadcaster IRIB quoted the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson as saying Tehran submitted a text containing “a constructive approach aimed at finalising the negotiations”.
The IRIB report said Iran’s response was sent to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who has been coordinating negotiations over returning to the 2015 deal, reached between Iran, the US, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the EU, Russia and China, which saw Tehran agree to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.
Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, instead pursuing a policy of “maximum pressure” sanctions against Iran. Tehran has since expanded its nuclear programme, arguing the restrictions were void following the US withdrawal.
Iran has long denied it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons while saying it has a right to civilian nuclear infrastructure.
The latest back-and-forth between Iran and the administration of US President Joe Biden, which has prioritised returning to the deal since taking office in January 2021, follows a “final” proposal submitted to both sides in early August, breaking months of deadlock.
Details of Iran’s latest response were not immediately released, but the US State Department said it received the text via the EU.
“We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said following the response: “Some gaps have closed in recent weeks – but others remain.”
Iran has called for stronger guarantees from Washington before a return to the deal, particularly related to sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the United Nations’ atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should drop its probe of Tehran’s suspected nuclear work at three undeclared sites.
The US has declined to discuss details but has opposed Iran’s insistence on closing the investigation.
In what was viewed as a major turning point in early August, the US said Iran dropped one key stumbling block – that Biden reverse Trump’s blacklisting of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “terrorist” organisation.
The Eurasia Group consultancy has given a 45 percent likelihood of a return to the deal in 2022.