In Germany, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the US is getting “closer” to giving up on the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“I’m not going to put a date on it but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the JCPOA does not reproduce the benefits that that agreement achieved,” Blinken told reporters on Wednesday.
Blinken’s comments come a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency falsely claimed that Iran’s very small stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium is growing rapidly. Iran recently started enriching some uranium at 60 percent in response to an April attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility that was carried out by Israel.
The IAEA said Iran’s 60 percent stockpile “quadrupled” since May, which sounds alarming, but that is the same month Tehran started such enrichment. Using wording like “quadrupled” to described a stockpile that didn’t exist before May is intentionally misleading.
The IAEA has also accused Iran of “seriously undermining” nuclear inspections because they stopped voluntarily complying with certain aspects of the JCPOA. The IAEA’s accusation ignores the fact that Iran is no longer bound by the JCPOA because the US violated the deal way back in 2018.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi responded to the IAEA criticism and said Iran has been “transparent” with the organization. “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s serious cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency is a clear example of Iran’s will to be transparent about its nuclear activities,” he said.
Raisi has signaled he’s ready to return to indirect negotiations with the US but hasn’t given a timeline. Raisi has said he wants talks without Western “pressure,” and the IAEA’s clear pro-US bias or Blinken’s comments are not going to compel him to race back to the negotiating table.
“Of course, if the IAEA has a non-constructive approach, it’s unreasonable to expect a constructive response from Iran,” Raisi said. “What’s more, non-constructive actions of course upset the negotiation process.”
The JCPOA talks have been stalled since June 20th. The West blames Iran for the delay, but it was the Biden administration’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions that dragged out the negotiations in the first place. By negotiating limited sanctions relief, Iran is making a significant concession to the US.