US awaits 'constructive' response from Iran on revival of nuclear deal

Tehran's demand that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from a US terrorism list has thrown talks off track

A UN Security Council meeting. The 2015 nuclear deal gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. AP
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The US is waiting for a constructive response from Iran on how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal without the existence of “extraneous” issues, a possible reference to Tehran's demand that its powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be dropped from Washington's terrorism list.

The remarks were made by State Department spokesman Ned Price on Tuesday in response to claims made by Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who said Tehran had submitted a proposal to revive the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to Reuters.

Another State Department representative denied that the US had received any serious proposal from Tehran.

“We have seen no substantive communication from Iran, but we are open to any initiative that would allow us to immediately conclude and implement the deal we negotiated in Vienna for mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA, dropping issues that go beyond the JCPOA,” said the representative.

Former US president Donald Trump reneged on the nuclear deal, under which Iran had restrained its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief, in 2018.

This prompted Tehran to begin exceeding its core nuclear limits about a year later.

Iran has declined to hold direct talks with Washington about reviving the deal and transmits messages chiefly through European diplomats.

The pact appeared close to being revived in March but talks were thrown into disarray, partly over whether the US would remove the IRGC from its Foreign Terrorist Organisations list.

The IRGC controls elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of a waging a global terrorist campaign.

US President Joe Biden's government has made clear it has no plan to drop the IRGC from the list, a step that would have limited practical effect but would anger many US politicians.

Deal still possible

Iran said on Tuesday that it still believes that negotiations to revive the deal can succeed, despite a recent rebuke from the UN nuclear watchdog.

Last week, Tehran condemned as “unconstructive” a move by the International Atomic Energy Agency to censure the country for failing to co-operate with regards to its nuclear programme.

It also disconnected some of its cameras at nuclear sites, a move the agency warned could deal a “fatal blow” to negotiations to revive the nuclear deal.

During a press conference in Tehran with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Mr Amirabdollahian said Iran believed that “negotiations and diplomacy are the best ways to reach the final point of the agreement”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian attends a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart, not pictured, in Tehran on Tuesday. EPA

The nuclear agency's board of governors on Wednesday adopted a resolution censuring Iran for failing to adequately explain the previous discovery of traces of enriched uranium at three sites that it had not declared as having hosted nuclear activities.

Tehran submitted an initiative, before the nuclear agency's move, which had been accepted by the US, Mr Amirabdollahian claimed. However, Washington still moved to submit the resolution censuring Iran.

The US has argued that Tehran's demand that the IRGC be removed from its terrorism blacklist is peripheral to discussions, although it has indicated that the issue could be discussed later.

Mr Amirabdollahian promised that Iran would not abandon its diplomatic outreach through the EU.

Iran “will not distance itself from … diplomacy and negotiations to reach a good, strong and lasting agreement”, he said.

Updated: June 17, 2022, 6:07 PM