Iran has rejected the Biden administration’s offer to relaunch negotiations over a new nuclear deal in exchange for lifting some sanctions before it was even proposed.
“A senior Iranian official tells Press TV that Tehran will stop its 20% uranium enrichment only if the US lifts ALL its sanctions on Iran first,” Iranian state-run Press TV said on its website, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“The official said Tehran will further reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal if the US does not lift all sanctions, warning that Washington is rapidly running out of time.”
This is the third time the Islamic Republic has turned down the United States’ offer to resume talks about a new nuclear deal.
Politico reported Monday that the Biden administration had planned to put forward a new proposal as soon as this week.
The proposal would ask Iran to stop some of its nuclear activities — like the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity — if the U.S. lifted some of its economic sanctions.
The proposal is “more than anything, about trying to get the conversation started,” a source familiar with the situation told Politico.
“Iran is poised to blow through additional nuclear deal restrictions in the next few weeks,” Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said. Kimball’s association has been closely tracking any nuclear negotiations involving Iran.
“This is the crucial time to avoid an escalation of the situation.”
Tehran had previously rejected a proposal it said was unacceptable and countered with an idea Biden’s team said was a non-starter, according to Politico.
If talks are not restarted soon, it is unlikely anything will happen until September.
Iran’s presidential campaign season will kick off in May, with the presidential elections held in June, so it is unlikely any moves on the 2015 nuclear agreement will be made in the middle of it.
Iran’s temporary agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency is also set to expire in May.
The Biden administration has faced progressive pressure to rejoin the nuclear deal, but many officials are questioning if President Joe Biden wants to revive the agreement — and if he does, how soon it could be.
“We have been clear that we are ready to pursue a mutual return to the [Iran deal],” one Biden administration official said.
“We have also been open that we are talking with our [international] partners … about the best way to achieve this, including through a series of initial, mutual steps. We have been looking at options for doing so, including with indirect conversations through our European partners.”
Iran has also said that its only nuclear power plant is “facing the risk of shutdown” because of the U.S. sanctions, according to Bloomberg.
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