US says no more Iran talks 'on the books' until progress is made

State Department official says 'deal on the table' will not be there indefinitely

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The US has ruled out another round of indirect talks with Iran in Qatar’s capital Doha due to a lack of progress.

Indirect negotiations between the two countries over Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers ended last week after no significant progress.

The US intends to resurrect the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to limit Iran’s nuclear activities through strict monitoring and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told a media briefing on Tuesday that the lack of progress from Iran in finding a deal was “tantamount to backtracking”.

“There is not another round of talks currently on the books. We remain committed to exploring a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA,” he said.

“We are committed to returning to compliance with the JCPOA if Iran makes that same commitment. Unfortunately, Iran, as I said before, continues to raise issues that are extraneous [and] continues to demonstrate that it has not yet made that political commitment.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the deal on the table would not be there forever. AFP

Earlier on Tuesday, US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley said Iran had enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb.

He told National Public Radio (NPR) that the failure of the last round of talks was a “wasted occasion”.

Mr Malley also put the blame on Iran for making additional demands unrelated to discussions on its nuclear programme during the latest talks.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the removal of “cruel” sanctions against his country was a prerequisite for striking a deal with the world powers, Iranian state media reported on Tuesday.

Mr Raisi made the comments in a meeting with Lithuania’s ambassador to Tehran, Richard Digotis, on Monday.

“The removal of cruel sanctions against Iran will prepare the ground for an agreement and co-operation,” he said.

Iran has maintained that it will comply with the JCPOA enrichment limits when sanctions are lifted while Washington has demanded that Tehran first comply before sanctions can be removed.

Mr Raisi said the US and its allies on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency had adopted an anti-Iran resolution during talks to revive the JCPOA.

On June 8, the agency's board passed a resolution, the first in two years, drafted by the US and European countries that criticised Iran for not fully complying with UN inspectors at three undeclared nuclear sites.

Before the vote, Iran said it was disconnecting several UN monitoring cameras at nuclear sites already operating beyond the terms of the 2015 agreement.

It revealed plans to install more advanced centrifuges for nuclear enrichment at the Natanz complex in response to the resolution.

More than six months since the US first said time was running out, Mr Price said in the Tuesday briefing that the “deal on the table” would not be there indefinitely.

“We were disappointed that Iran, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU’s initiative, and no progress was made,” he said of the Doha talks, which were arranged by European nations.

“We are at a point where the lack of forward momentum, the lack of progress is tantamount to backtracking. Time is of the essence.

“We have said that because this is not a deal that will be on the table indefinitely. It is a deal that will be on the table only as long as it is in our national security interests.

“And the fact is that since Iran distanced itself from the commitments it made with the JCPOA that was implemented in January 2016, Iran’s programme has galloped forward in ways that are wholly concerning to us.

“There is a deal on the table that would mitigate many of those concerns and that, most importantly, would once again verifiably and permanently see to it that Iran is prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“That is our goal. It is our goal because President [Joe] Biden has made a commitment that Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Former Iran envoy named as global anti-corruption chief

Mr Price announced Richard Nephew as the State Department's global anti-corruption co-ordinator during the briefing.

Mr Nephew rejoins the State Department from Columbia University’s Centre on Global Energy Policy, where he was a senior research scholar.

He is a former deputy special envoy for Iran, principal deputy co-ordinator for sanctions policy at the State Department and director for Iran on the National Security Staff.

Mr Price said the role “demonstrates the importance the United States places on anti-corruption as a core national security interest”.

“This position is designed to integrate and elevate the fight against corruption across all aspects of US diplomacy and foreign assistance, working closely with inter-agency and international partners,” he said.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 7:33 AM
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