Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. FILE PHOTO

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

US Says Iran Abandoned Previous Compromises In Latest Nuclear Talks

12/4/2021

Iran abandoned any compromises it had made in previous nuclear talks, pocketed those made by others, and demanded more this week, a senior US official has said.

Reuters reported Saturday that according to an unnamed US official speaking to reporters, Tehran's stance during the first such talks in more than five months disappointed not just the United States and its European allies but also China and Russia, historically supportive of Iran.

While stressing that the United States still wanted to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPO), the official told reporters time was running short.

The indirect US-Iranian talks on saving the deal broke off on Friday in Vienna as European officials also voiced dismay at sweeping demands by Iran's hardline government.

The latest talks were the first with delegates sent by Iran's anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi, who was elected in June and whose government had said it needed time to prepare for fresh talks after the six rounds between April and June. But Iran delayed its return to the talks and ramped up its uranium enrichment, expanding its stockpile to more than 200 kg of fissile material purified to 20 and 60 percent. This has cut the breakout time for Tehran to weeks instead of months.

The senior US official said Iran used the time to speed up its nuclear program in "provocative" ways and to stonewall the UN nuclear watchdog charged with monitoring its eroding compliance with the deal.

While seeking to leave the door ajar for talks, the official blamed Iran as "the reason why there is not ... a mutual return to compliance" with the original deal.

Tehran, however, has placed the onus on Washington, noting that then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating the nuclear restrictions starting in 2019.

The 2015 agreement imposed strict limits on Iran's uranium enrichment activities, extending the time it would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, if it chose to, to at least a year from around two to three months.

While saying it was unclear whether China and Russia might ramp up economic pressure on Iran if talks fail, he suggested their positions may be evolving.

"They also were quite taken aback by the degree to which Iran had walked back its own compromises and then doubled down on the requests that it (made)," he said. "They do share a sense of disappointment, to put it diplomatically."

The US official said he did not know when the next round of talks would resume - others had said next week - and said the date was less important than Iran's willingness to negotiate.

American officials have said they would consider other options if they cannot revive the deal, a phrase understood to include the possibility of military ones, however remote.

Reporting by Reuters

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