On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Iran of not taking renewed negotiations to revive the nuclear deal seriously. The talks in Vienna ended on Friday after five days and are expected to reconvene next week.
EU diplomat Enrique Mora, who is brokering the negotiations, said the talks were paused so the envoys in Vienna could go back to their capitals for consultations, but Blinken is blaming the pause on Iran.
“What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance, which is why we ended this round of talks in Vienna,” Blinken said. “We’re going to be consulting very closely and carefully with all of our partners in the process itself … and we will see if Iran has any interest in engaging seriously.”
Blinken also said if the talks fail, the US would “pursue other options.” He didn’t specify what those options entail but has previously not ruled out military action against Iran as an option if the JCPOA isn’t revived.
The US and the European countries involved in the talks want Iran to accept the sanctions relief offered in a draft deal during earlier negotiations that concluded in June. But since no agreement was reached, Iran’s stance is that everything is still up for negotiation, and the new government of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi likely wants more sanctions relief.
On Thursday, Iran presented two draft deals that cover the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s nuclear commitments. According to an Al Jazeera report, the proposals were built on the progress made during earlier negotiations, but certain elements are new and need to be worked out.
What Blinken wants is for Iran to agree to limited sanctions relief likely without any guarantees that the US wouldn’t withdraw from the JCPOA again. Despite how Blinken portrays the situation, if Iran gives in and agrees to the US demands, it would be a major concession and ultimately would be a bad deal for Tehran.
The Iranian side also has good reasons to doubt that the US is serious about the negotiations. Leading up to the talks, the US imposed new sanctions on Iran, issued threats, and has been coordinating closely with Israel on the issue. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet told Blinken that the US should “immediately” end the negotiations.