Washington calls Tehran's stance 'unconstructive'
Diplomats' attempts to salvage Iran's 'nuclear deal', which involves the lifting of sanctions in exchange for Iranian concessions on the nuclear program, were hanging by a thread on Thursday after Washington said Tehran's latest response to the European Union proposal was “non-constructive”.
A US State Department spokesman said the United States has received Iran's response to the EU's 2015 renewal request and will formulate its own response, CNN reports.
“We are looking into it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately this is not constructive, — said a State Department spokesman.
A senior Biden administration official declined to give details of what the Iranians proposed, but added: “Based on their response, we appear to be moving backwards.” And a European diplomatic source agreed with this negative assessment and said that Iran's response looks “negative and unreasonable.” Another source familiar with the situation simply added that Iran's response was “not very good at all.”
Iran forwarded its response to the EU on Thursday after careful scrutiny, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said. “The directed text has a constructive approach with the aim of completing the negotiations,” the message says.
In early August, EU officials sent what they called the “final text” to the US and Iran. a revived deal to limit Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Since then, Iran and the United States have exchanged views on the full implementation of the nuclear pact, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reiterated this week that a United Nations nuclear watchdog investigation of traces of uranium previously found at undeclared research facilities in Iran must be closed before Tehran agrees to return to agreement.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi told CNN last week that his organization would not close the investigation until it received answers from Iran.
Amir-Abdollahyan said at a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday that Iran is also seeking a “harder text on guarantees,” without naming the specific guarantees Tehran is seeking.
In an earlier In response to Washington, Tehran raised issues related to economic guarantees. Iran is concerned, among other things, that even if the deal is reopened, foreign firms will still consider it too risky to invest in the Iranian economy, especially if there is a possibility that a future Republican US president will backtrack on the deal.
US officials have previously expressed some optimism about the latest efforts to revive the nuclear deal that the US abandoned in 2018 under the Trump administration and that Tehran has increasingly violated since then, according to the West. However, US officials also stressed that differences remain between the two sides.
Efforts to revive the deal with the Islamic Republic are also expected to face significant domestic opposition from lawmakers in the US Congress and be condemned by Israel, whose prime minister has said he “will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.”
Earlier Thursday, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing concerns about aspects of the talks. A deal to restore the 2015 agreement is likely to be considered in Congress. But with the US midterm elections coming up in November, many Democrats in particular may want to avoid the Iran debate in the coming weeks. So it's entirely possible that negotiations could stall until the US midterm elections end in November.
Nuclear deal talks are also taking place amid lingering concerns about threats from Iran and Tehran-backed military groups , notes CNN.
Biden administration officials have previously said that Tehran has abandoned a number of demands contained in earlier draft text to restore the 2015 deal, including a stipulation that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization.
Commenting on the Iranian response to the US proposals, Politico notes that the United States criticized it as “not encouraging at all”; The step back and the backlash from the Biden administration, as well as European sources, suggests that a revival of the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal is not inevitable, as some supporters of the deal had hoped, despite the talks having been going on for about a year and a half.
It is not clear how long the various parties involved will be willing to continue negotiations, although neither Iran nor the US is likely to permanently rule out the possibility of diplomacy. A Biden administration official did not respond to questions about whether the US would back out of talks given Iran's latest response, Politico writes.