A new nuclear deal between the US and Iran is “unlikely” any time soon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.
He said Tehran's response to an EU proposal on the deal was “clearly a step backward”.
This week, Germany, France and the UK raised “serious doubts” about Iran's sincerity in restoring the 2015 accord, from which Donald Trump, US president at the time, unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
“What we have seen over the last week or so in Iran’s response to the proposal put forward by the European Union is clearly a step backward and makes prospects for an agreement in the near-term, I would say, unlikely,” Mr Blinken said at a press conference in Mexico City.
“Iran seems either unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement and they continue to try to introduce extraneous issues to the negotiations that make an agreement less likely.”
The EU proposal was introduced to try to break a deadlock after months of indirect talks between the US and Iran.
An inquiry by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into Iran’s past nuclear activities has taken centre stage in the talks to resuscitate the 2015 agreement, where success could unleash a surge in Iranian oil exports.
The agency's 35-member board of governors convened on Monday in Vienna to discuss the stand-off and heard a gloomy assessment from director general Rafael Grossi
“The information gap is bigger and bigger,” Mr Grossi said. However, he expects Iran to co-operate with his inquiry.
Iran's nuclear programme — in pictures
Iran is demanding the agency's investigation into suggestions of nuclear activities at undeclared sites be halted before it starts to dismantle a programme now enriching uranium to slightly below the levels needed to make weapons.
The US and other world powers have offered sanctions relief if Iran curtails nuclear-fuel production, but they insist it is up to the agency to declare an end to the investigation.
The governments of France, Germany and the UK issued a joint statement on Saturday addressing the latest demands from Iran.
“In light of Iran’s failure to conclude the agreement on the table, we will consult with our international partners on how best to deal with Iran’s continued nuclear escalation,” the European governments said.