JERUSALEM, Israel – Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday it is “unlikely” the US and Iran will reach an agreement to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the immediate future, indicating that the ongoing standoff over Iran’s nuclear program is far from being resolved.
“Iran seems either unwilling or unable to do what’s necessary to reach an agreement and they continue to try to introduce extraneous issues to the negotiations that make an agreement less likely,” Blinken told reporters during a news conference in Mexico City, where he met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Earlier this month, Iran submitted its response to a final draft proposal to restore the deal. Blinken called Iran’s response a “step backward.”
"What we've 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,” he said.
Negotiators in Vienna have spent the past year and a half trying to coax Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear deal, which placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions in sanctions relief. Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, arguing that the deal was poorly negotiated and did not sufficiently address Iran’s activities in the Middle East. In response, Iran abandoned its own commitments to the deal and has accelerated its nuclear development.
Supporters of the agreement, such as President Joe Biden’s administration, believe the original accord proved effective in restraining Iran’s nuclear capabilities and argue that Iran has become more dangerous in the absence of an agreement.
Recent optimism among world leaders over the prospects of bringing Iran back into compliance with the deal has faded in recent weeks.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Berlin that a renewed nuclear agreement “certainly won’t happen soon.”
Israel has long opposed the nuclear agreement and believes Iran will exploit the sanctions relief to fund global terrorism.
"Removing sanctions and pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into Iran will bring waves of terrorism, not only to the Middle East, but also across Europe," Lapid said in Berlin, and urged world leaders to “move past the failed negotiations with Iran.”
Citing an unnamed senior Israeli official, Israeli media reported Monday that Washington has given up on reviving the 2015 pact after Israel provided evidence that Iran has been lying about its nuclear program during negotiations.
“We gave information to the Europeans that proved that the Iranians are lying while talks are still happening,” the Israeli official said.
“There are no talks right now with Iran. There is no one in Vienna,” the official added.
A State Department official rejected the claims by the Israeli official, telling The Times of Israel: “We have been and are continuing to seek a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] because President Biden is convinced that this is the best way to deliver on his commitment not to allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon.”
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