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Blinken says Iran’s latest nuclear pact response ‘takes us backwards’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
September 13, 2022

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Tehran’s latest response in negotiations on reviving a 2015 nuclear pact has pushed the talks a step back.

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Speaking to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on September 9, Blinken said Washington still hopes for a deal to keep Iran’s nuclear program in check, but that it was not looking for an agreement at any cost.

After 16 months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, the EU last month put forward a final offer to overcome an impasse for the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

Iran responded to the proposal, which the United States then replied to, prompting a further response from Tehran, bolstering hopes a deal may be near.

“In past weeks, we’ve closed some gaps. Iran has moved away from some extraneous demands — demands unrelated to the JCPOA itself,” Blinken said. “However, the latest response takes us backwards. And we’re not about to agree to a deal that doesn’t meet our bottom-line requirements…. If we conclude a deal, it’s only because it will advance our national security.”

The agreement collapsed when former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

Since then, Tehran has progressively rolled back its own commitments to the deal, which was designed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

In its most recent response to the EU proposal, Iran said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should drop its “politically motivated probes” of Tehran’s nuclear work.

The IAEA has been probing the origins of nuclear material found at three undeclared Iranian sites.