Iran deal return ‘very hard’ if talks drag on, warns Blinken during France visit

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday warned Iran that the United States could eventually give up on rejoining a nuclear deal if talks in Vienna drag on.

“There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA,” Blinken told reporters in Paris, referring to the 2015 nuclear accord from which former US president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.


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All sides have been negotiating in Vienna for six weeks to find a way to resume compliance, but a sixth round of indirect talks adjourned on Sunday with key issues still unresolved

“We still have significant differences with Iran,” Blinken said, adding that he hoped a resumption of talks in the coming days could resolve them.

Blinken, who said talks would not last indefinitely, said the immediate priority was to put the nuclear deal “back in the box,” but that the United States and its partners would also have the tools if a deal was agreed to handle Iran's regional and missile activities.

Lack of interim pact with IAEA

The lack of an interim agreement between the UN nuclear watchdog and Iran on the monitoring of atomic activities is a serious concern that has been communicated to Tehran, Blinken said.

Struck on February 21, the interim monitoring deal was valid for three months, then extended by a month on May 24. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said it expired on Thursday. It is in talks with Iran on another extension.

“This remains a serious concern,” Blinken told reporters in Paris alongside his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. “The concern has been communicated to Iran and needs to be resolved.”

A spokesman for the IAEA said that Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi would inform the IAEA Board of Governors on the matter during the course of Friday.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian echoed those comments saying the ball was in the court of Iran's decision makers and that the negotiations had now entered their toughest stage.

“We’re waiting for Iranian authorities to take the final difficult decisions to allow for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal,” he said.

Read more: US may need to rethink strategy on nuclear deal with Iran: State Department official

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