US Blames Iran’s Demand for Sanctions Relief for Nuclear Talks Failing

Statement says Iran preventing conclusion of a deal

The Iran nuclear deal talks are not technically over. The US presented them as irrevocably stalled, with the EU sending diplomats to try to restart the talks. Even though that worked, the US never really returned to the talks, and is now telling the IAEA Board of Governors that this is entirely Iran’s fault.

In Tuesday’s statement, the US said they needed a “willing partner” to make a deal, but that Iran would need to drop calls for sanctions lifting to make that happen, saying that is preventing the deal.

This appears absurd on the surface. The whole negotiation process was built around a direct exchange, Iran’s return to the 2015 nuclear deal terms in return for the US delivering sanctions relief promised in 2015 but never delivered.

The US suggests their objection is that Iran is seeking sanctions relief on sanctions that are beyond the scope of the civilian nuclear program, and that this amounts to Iranian overreach.

Its difficult to blame Iran, however, as the US almost always couches new Iran sanctions as something vaguely to do with the nuclear program. Sanctions targeting things like Iran’s space program, trying to fire satellites into orbit, have at their core a US idea that space launches are technology for potentially nuclear-capable missile.

Having gone to such a degree to sanction Iran so heavily with spin about the nuclear program, it’s no surprise that Iran would expect some of that to be part of the easing of sanctions. US resistance is likely in no small part because disentangling their huge array of sanctions would be very complicated.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.