Iran official denies tactics and internal politics hindering nuclear talks

A top Iranian official has refuted claims made by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. Twitter@AlHadath
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A top Iranian security official on Wednesday blamed the West's  "deceptive strategy" for stalling any revival of nuclear talks, not "tactical problems" or Iran's domestic politics, as stated by France's foreign minister.

France, along with Britain, Germany and the European Union, are striving to bring the US and Iran to the table for informal talks as a first step towards reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which lifted international sanctions on the country in exchange for curbs to its nuclear programme.

"There is a tactical problem and also an internal [issue] in Iran, which is in a particular situation because we are quite close to [its] presidential election in June," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, hit back on Twitter: "Nothing will happen unless the #UnitedStates takes effective actions to lift the oppressive #sanctions."

"The current stalemate is not tactical and domestic, but related to the West's deceptive strategy," Mr Shamkhani said, without mentioning Mr Le Drian.

Mr Le Drian did not say what the tactical problem was, but added that while there was a stated will to return to talks, tension prevailed and it was urgent to calm the situation and move forward.

Iran began breaching the deal's limits on uranium enrichment activity in 2019 in response to a US withdrawal from the deal and the reimposition of economic sanctions ordered by former president Donald Trump, who opposed the agreement – reached before he took office – and sought to wreck it.

Iran has recently accelerated its breaches in an apparent bid to pressure US President Joe Biden, with both sides in a standoff over who should move first to save the deal.

Both countries so far appear unwilling to compromise. The Iranian New Year this week and the presidential elections in June are also likely to complicate matters.

Tehran has ruled out broadening nuclear talks to other subjects such as its ballistic missile programme, as called for by Washington.