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US says Iran not 'a willing partner' in nuclear talks

Statements from Western powers leave little hope for revival of 2015 nuclear deal
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a State Department careers conversation at Purdue University, on September 13, 2022, in West Lafayette, Indiana (AFP).

Iran is not "a willing partner" in indirect talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, the US said at a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog's Board of Governors on Tuesday.

"We stand ready to quickly implement a deal on a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA. What we lack is a willing partner in Iran," the US said in a statement to the group.

Hopes to revive the nuclear pact have faltered in recent weeks, with leaders from US secretary of State Anthony Blinken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressing pessimism on the deal.

On Monday Blinken said that the pact was “unlikely” to be revived for now because Tehran has taken “a step backward” in negotiations.

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Iran and world powers have been locked in talks for more than 16 months to restore a deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which capped Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018. Iran gradually restarted its nuclear program after the US exit.

The comments from senior Western officials this week, mark a stark turnaround from earlier this summer when hopes were high that the two sides were inching closer to a deal.

On 8 August, the European Union, put forth what it called a final draft text and urged Washington and Tehran to accept or reject the proposal in an effort to spur talks along.

The initial optimism of Western diplomats over Iran’s response to the draft has since been replaced by frustration over what Western countries have called Tehran’s hardening position.

Over the weekend, Britain, France and Germany said they had "serious doubts" about Iran's intentions after it tried to link a revival of the deal - which seek to place limits on its nuclear programme - with a closure of UN watchdog probes into uranium traces at three of its nuclear sites.

Tehran called the European statement “unconstructive".

Further complicating efforts to revive the deal, the UN nuclear watchdog said in a report last week that it "cannot assure" the peaceful nature of Tehran's nuclear programme.

Iran on Monday reaffirmed its "readiness" to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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