U.S. casts doubt on Iran’s latest offer in nuclear talks
Iran sent a written response early Friday in negotiations over a final draft of a roadmap for parties to return to its tattered nuclear deal with world powers, but the U.S. cast doubt on Tehran’s offer.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement that “the sent text has a constructive approach with the aim of finalizing the negotiations.”
However, as in the last round of written proposals and counter-proposals, Iran did not divulge what it said. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state in the country’s Shiite theocracy, largely has been silent in recent weeks on the negotiations.
In Washington, the State Department confirmed that it had received Iran’s response through the European Union, which has served as an intermediary for the indirect talks after then-President Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear accord in 2018.
“We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive,” the State Department said, similarly not elaborating on what the proposal contained.
The 2015 deal saw Iran greatly curtail its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Under the deal, Iran could have only 660 pounds of uranium enriched up to 3.67%, and the stockpile would be under constant scrutiny by International Atomic Energy Agency surveillance cameras and inspectors.
Reviving the nuclear accord could delay Iranian acquisition of a bomb, but that doesn’t make agreement easy — or a given.
Now, however, the last public IAEA count shows Iran has a stockpile of some 8,370 pounds of enriched uranium. More worrying for non-proliferation experts, Iran now enriches uranium up to 60% purity — a level it never reached before that is a short, technical step away from 90%. Those experts warn that Iran has enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.
While Iran long has maintained that its program is peaceful, officials now openly discuss Tehran’s ability to seek an atomic bomb if it wanted. Meanwhile, a series of attacks across the wider Mideast since the deal’s collapse has raised tensions of a wider conflict breaking out.
Both the U.S. and Iran have tried to portray the ongoing negotiations as bending in their favor on issues like the American sanctions targeting Tehran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Earlier this week, Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi maintained that an IAEA investigation into traces of man-made uranium found at undeclared nuclear sites in the country must be halted.
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