The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday said that Iranian officials held indirect talks with the US in Oman last month but dismissed the idea that an interim nuclear deal was on the table.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani appeared to confirm a report from Axios that said the talks took place in Oman on May 8, when President Biden’s top Middle East official on the National Security Council, Brett McGurk, was in Muscat.
According to the report, the US and Iranian officials did not meet directly, and Omani officials acted as mediators. Sources told Axios that the main message that the US conveyed to Iran was a threat that there would be severe consequences if Iran enriched uranium at 90%, which is required to develop a nuclear bomb. But there’s no indication Tehran will take that step.
Middle East Eye also recently reported that the US and Iran were holding direct talks in the US, but those negotiations haven’t been confirmed. The MEE report said an interim nuclear deal that would require Iran to reduce uranium enrichment for sanctions relief was on the table, but both sides have denied the claim.
Kanaani said Iran was not interested in an interim nuclear deal but was open to restoring the original 2015 agreement, known as the JCPOA, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018. There’s no sign that the Biden administration is interested in resurrecting the JCPOA, which President Biden has previously said was “dead.”
Amid reports of US and Iranian engagement, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that there’s “nothing wrong” with Iran reaching an agreement on its nuclear program as long as the infrastructure remains intact. Khamenei also reaffirmed Iran’s position that it does not seek a nuclear weapon.