The United States is disappointed that Iran said the time was not “suitable” for an informal meeting on reviving the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal, but remained “ready to re-engage” in meaningful diplomacy, a White House spokeswoman said.
“While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments,” the spokeswoman said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal.
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She added that Washington would be consulting with its P5+1 partners, the four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom - plus Germany on the best way forward.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier on Sunday: “Considering the recent positions and actions of the United States and the three European countries, [Iran] does not consider the time suitable to hold the informal meeting proposed by the European coordinator [of the deal].”
Washington and Tehran are locked in a standoff over reviving nuclear talks.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has signaled to Iran its willingness to return to talks to revive the nuclear deal Former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
Biden reversed Trump’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran had been restored. And the State Department eased stringent restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats in New York.
Yet, Tehran demanded that all Trump-era sanctions on Iran be lifted before taking any real action to return to the deal.
"There has still been no change in US positions and behaviour yet," Khatibzadeh added, saying the Biden administration has continued "Trump's failed policy of maximum pressure".
The Iranian regime is trying to get more concessions from Washington before taking any real action, especially in light of growing pressure at home due to economic hardship worsened by the US sanctions.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week Iran might enrich uranium up to 60 percent purity if needed, while repeating a denial of any Iranian intent to seek nuclear weapons, for which 90 percent enrichment would be required.
The UN's atomic watchdog IAEA reported last week that Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium was more than 14 times over the limit set down in its 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran also restricted site inspections by the IAEA after a US refusal to lift existing sanctions, a step Britain, France and Germany condemned as “dangerous.”
Biden's administration said it had no plans to take additional steps on Iran before diplomatic conversation, all the while facing mounting pressure from Republican lawmakers to not "give up leverage" and "appease" Tehran by lifting sanctions.
- With Agencies