Blinken: Iran Not Serious About Reviving Nuclear Deal, U.S. Has Other Options

The United States would not let Iran drag out the process while continuing to advance its nuclear program, Blinken says, adding that Tehran's lack of good faith is what led Washington to terminate the indirect talks

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday.Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand,AP
Reuters
Ben Samuels

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that the latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers ended because Iran "does not seem to be serious about doing what is necessary" to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

Blinken, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, warned that the United States would not let Iran drag out the process while continuing to advance its nuclear program and that Washington will pursue other options if diplomacy fails.

"What we've seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what's necessary to return to compliance," he said, adding that Iran's lack of good faith is what led the U.S. to terminate the indirect talks Friday.

Blinken added that Iran's moves over the last few months to enrich uranium to 60 percent purity and produce advanced centrifuges "are profoundly dangerous and are also dramatically shortening the space that we have for a return to comply with the agreement."

"We will see if Iran has any interest in engaging seriously," Blinken said, "but the window is, is very, very tight... If the path to return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead end, we will pursue other options."

Blinken also mentioned that returning to the talks has reaped benefits for Washington's relationship with world powers. "We're now back on the same page with our closest allies and partners. We've been divided," he said.

"Ironically, the United States was isolated as a result of pulling out of the agreement, not Iran. Well, we're now in a different place and even Russia and China are clearly frustrated with what Iran is doing or not doing in these talks." 

Also on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Iran's approach in talks this week was not to resolve nuclear issues, noting that a solution could be at hand if Iran was committed.

Indirect U.S.-Iranian talks on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal teetered on the brink of crisis on Friday as they broke off until next week with European officials expressing dismay at the demands of Iran's new hardline administration.

The seventh round of talks in Vienna is the first with delegates sent by Iran's anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi on how to resuscitate the agreement under which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

Raisi's election in June caused a five-month hiatus in the talks, heightening suspicions among U.S. and European officials that Iran is playing for time while advancing its nuclear program.

Diplomats said the Iranian delegation had proposed sweeping changes to a text that was painstakingly negotiated in previous rounds and that European officials had said was 70-80 percent finished.

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