Feb 28, 2021 - World

Iran rejects nuclear talks with U.S., for now

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Iran/EU talks in 2015. Photo: Carlos Barria/POOL/AFP via Getty

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.

What they're saying:

  • “There has been no change in the U.S. position and behavior yet, and the Biden administration has not only not abandoned Trump's failed policy of maximum pressure, but has not even announced its commitment to fulfilling its overall commitments as part of the nuclear deal," said Iranian spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh.
  • He added Iran won't re-negotiate the nuclear deal and reiterated Iran's longstanding insistence that the U.S. start the process by removing sanctions.
  • "While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the nuclear deal commitments," a White House spokesman said.
  • "We will be consulting with our P5+1 partners on the best way forward," the spokesman added, referring to the other parties to the nuclear deal: China, Russia, the U.K., France and Germany.

Between the lines: The Iranian response to the U.S. proposal seems to be connected to a diplomatic effort by the U.S. and European signatories to pass a resolution against Iran at an upcoming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

  • The resolution is expected to criticize Iran for curtailing the access of nuclear inspectors.

The state of play: The Biden administration says it'll return the U.S. to the 2015 deal by lifting sanctions if Iran returns to compliance by reversing its recent nuclear steps. The main sticking point is the sequencing of those moves.

Go deeper