US says Iran unclear on return of nuclear pact
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that it is still unclear whether Iran is “ready and willing” to take the necessary steps to return to compliance with the multinational nuclear deal.
Speaking ahead of a fifth round of talks in Vienna on saving the deal, Blinken was asked about Iranian reports that Washington had already agreed to lift some of the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
“We know what sanctions should be lifted if they are inconsistent with the nuclear deal,” he told ABC’s “This Week”.
He added that, more importantly, “Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to return to nuclear compliance, and what we haven’t seen yet is if the Iran is ready and willing to make a decision.
“This is the test and we don’t have an answer yet.”
Donald Trump in 2017 backed out of the deal, saying Tehran had violated its “spirit” and remained a regional threat. His successor Joe Biden wants to revive the plan, and Blinken has worked with the other signatories to that end.
For this to happen, Washington must first agree to lift the sanctions reinstated by Trump and Tehran must commit to abiding by the terms of the deal.
– ‘Even greater impunity’ –
Once Trump walked away from the deal, the Islamic Republic began to drop constraints on its production of nuclear materials.
The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, Blinken said, “clearly has not achieved the result we are all looking for.”
While some have argued that Tehran’s support for extremist groups and its proliferation of weapons meant that it could not be trusted to observe a nuclear pact, Blinken instead argued that “an Iran with a nuclear weapon, or having the capacity to build one at a very short notice, is going to act with even greater impunity in these areas. “
European participants in the Vienna talks expressed optimism at the end of the last round of negotiations on Wednesday.
“We have made good progress,” said Enrique Mora, the European Union official who chaired talks between Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran on Wednesday.
“An agreement is emerging.”
Indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran have been continuing in the Austrian capital since early April, with the other five signatory countries playing the role of intermediaries.
Diplomats hope to bring the United States back on board ahead of Iran’s June 18 presidential elections.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Sunday that it was postponing a press conference in Vienna by its director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, until Monday.
He said Grossi “was continuing consultations with Tehran regarding the technical agreement between Iran and the UN agency”.
Tehran in late February restricted IAEA access to nuclear sites it monitored, but allowed some inspections to continue while the Vienna talks unfolded.
© 2021 AFP