US Cautions Against Iran’s Optimism Over Nuclear Deal Talks

Iran and Russia had positive things to say about the talks Tuesday

The US on Tuesday cautioned against positive comments from Iran over the negotiations to revive the nuclear deal while the European powers involved in the talks warned of an “urgent” need to reach an agreement.

State Department spokesman Ned Price claimed it was still too early to tell if Iran was serious about the talks. “It’s really too soon to tell whether Iran has returned with a more constructive approach to this round,” he told reporters.

“We are now assessing, in the course of these talks, whether the Iranians came back with an agenda of new issues or preliminary solutions to the ones already presented,” Price told reporters.

Since the talks restarted in Vienna at the end of November, the US has been accusing Iran of not taking the negotiations seriously. But Iran is just seeking more sanctions relief than the US is willing to give, and despite the negative comments coming from Washington, Iranian officials have been upbeat.

Earlier on Tuesday, both Iran and Russia had good things to say about the negotiations. Russia’s envoy in Vienna said “indisputable progress” was made during meetings on Tuesday. The current round of talks started on Monday after a brief pause.

“The Vienna talks are headed in a good direction,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Tehran. “We believe that if other parties continue the round of talks which just started with good faith, reaching a good agreement for all parties is possible.”

The Europeans involved in the negotiations are repeating the US narrative and released a joint statement warning only “weeks” were left before a deal could be made.

“This negotiation is urgent … We are clear that we are nearing the point where Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program will have completely hollowed out the JCPOA,” officials from the UK, France, and Germany said in a statement.

“That means we have weeks, not months, to conclude a deal before the JCPOA’s core non-proliferation benefits are lost,” the statement said.

Despite the Western warnings, any nuclear advancements Iran makes could be reversed and would be easily confirmed under the JCPOA’s strict inspection regime. Iran is currently enriching some uranium at 60 percent, which is less than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade. Over the weekend, Iran’s nuclear energy chief said even if the negotiations fail, Tehran won’t enrich uranium at a higher level.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.