A revival of the Iran nuclear deal now seems unlikely as the US has characterized Iran’s latest response in the EU-mediated negotiations as “moving backwards.”
Iran delivered the text early Friday morning Tehran time and called its response “constructive.” But in comments to Politico, an unnamed US official slammed the Iranian response as “not at all encouraging.”
“We are studying Iran’s response, but the bottom line is that it is not at all encouraging,” a senior US official said. “Based on their answer we appear to be moving backwards.”
The US official wouldn’t detail the contents of the text, but a European diplomat also shared the negative view of Iran’s response. The diplomat told Politico that Iran’s answer was “negative and not reasonable.”
It’s not yet clear if the US view on the response means that the Biden administration will end the talks on reviving the Iran deal, known as the JCPOA. The negotiations have dragged out throughout Biden’s presidency as he has refused to lift all Trump-era sanctions on Iran.
The Biden administration’s apparent rejection of the response could be related to the pressure it has been under from Israel and hawks in Congress to abandon talks with Iran.
Before Iran submitted its response, US officials said that they were “closer” to a deal after Iran made several concessions. Based on recent media reports, the only outstanding issues were related to guarantees for if the US withdraws from the JCPOA by reimposing sanctions, as it did in 2018.
Iran was also looking for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to close its inquiry into traces of uranium at undeclared nuclear sites. A US official said that Iran dropped its demand to end the IAEA investigation in order to revive the deal, but Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said this week that without settling the issue, “talking about an agreement would be meaningless.”