US State Department Spokesman Ned Price. File photo

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price.

US Says Iran Dragging Its Feet At Talks And Speeding Up Nuclear Program

12/21/2021

The United States says insufficient progress in Iran nuclear talks has left Washington in an uncertain position as to whether the 2015 deal can be revived.

US Department of State spokesman Ned Price said during a press briefing Monday that there might be some modest progress in talks between Iran and the world powers but if the pace of diplomacy continues to lag, the the 2015 nuclear deal, JCPOA will be a corpse that cannot be revived.

A reporter asked that the Biden Administration has been complaining about Iran's slow pace in the talks but so far the US remains committed to the process.Price responded that progress in the talks “was better than it might have been, but it was worse than it should have been”, putting the US in an uncertain position as to whether the JCPOA is worth saving.

Price pointed out that the talks are going on in an atmosphere of provocation from the Iranians, saying that Iran is accelerating the pace of its nuclear program and leveling up its destabilizing activities in the region. “We can’t accept a situation in which Iran is dragging its feet at the negotiating table but accelerating the pace of its nuclear program back home”, he said.

He acknowledged the arrangement between Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to restore elements of transparency to international monitoring through reinstalling cameras at Karaj nuclear facility, calling it “a welcome step” but also “a step that never should have been necessary in the first place”.

He noted that there is still “a window of opportunity in which a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA would be the best option for us, it would be the best option for the other members of the P5+1, it would be the best option for the international community”, because it would still be able to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Price, however, added that the US does not waste time and that it is discussing alternatives with partners in the region and beyond, saying, “We continue to watch what Iran does and what Iran says publicly, privately in the context of these indirect negotiations in Vienna… We’re prepared to lift sanctions inconsistent with the JCPOA, as long as Iran places itself back within the strict confines… in terms of the stringent verification and monitoring”.

Answering a question about Iranian-backed militias or proxies across the region, the spokesman said that the decision to walk away from the deal by the Trump administration in 2018 was supposed to “result in a so-called better deal, that would cow Iran and its proxies, that would leave the United States in a stronger position...And across every one of those promises, we’ve actually seen the opposite take place”.

“Across all of our concerns with Iran whether it’s its nuclear program, whether it’s support for terrorism, whether it’s support for proxies, whether it is destabilizing influence in the region, I think it is fair to say that every single one of our concerns has become more pronounced since 2018”, price said.

Defenders of a tough policy on Iran maintain that Iran will never make a deal that would permanently stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons or reduce its destabilizing activities in the region. Negotiations with and concessions to Tehran would provide time and resources for it to pursue its policies.

Price also spoke about the possibility that a nuclear deal might not address the concerns about the broader array of Iran’s destabilizing activities and behaviors throughout the region, noting that Washington is not sitting on its hands when it comes to Iran’s other “malign activities”.

“Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international and regional security. It threatens our forces, our diplomatic personnel, and our partners in the region and elsewhere. We as an administration are committed to countering the destabilizing influence and role that Iran is playing throughout the region, including with its support to proxies”, he said.

In another briefing on the same day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that due to the way that the Iranians have participated in the last round of talks in Vienna, President Joe Biden has asked the national security team “to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails and to take a look at other options. And that has been work that has been ongoing, including in consultation with a range of partners around the world”.

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