Jul 7, 2021 - World

Iran's nuclear limbo continues as presidential inauguration approaches

Raisi's opening press conference. Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

With Iran crossing another threshold toward a potential nuclear weapon, the U.S. is still waiting for Tehran's response to proposals made in Vienna to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, U.S. and European officials say.

Why it matters: Big gaps remain after six rounds of nuclear talks. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Tuesday that Iran has taken the unprecedented step of beginning to produce enriched uranium metal — a vital step toward developing nuclear weapons.

State of play: There is just one month left before the inauguration of new hardline president Ebrahim Raisi.

  • It's unclear if a deal will be possible before then, as the U.S. had hoped, or even when the seventh round of talks will take place.

The big picture: As with Iran's other recent violations of the 2015 deal, the U.S. and its European allies have refrained from taking any steps over the uranium metal announcement beyond issuing statements.

What they're saying: State Department spokesperson Ned Price called it “an unfortunate step backwards for Iran" that wouldn't gain Iran any leverage in negotiations, but stressed that "the window for diplomacy remains open."

  • U.S. officials reject claims that the nuclear talks are stalled and say the Iranians are in the middle of their internal consultation process. 
  • The U.K., France and Germany issued a joint statement on Tuesday warning that Iran was "threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations."

What’s next: “Everybody is basically waiting for the Iranians," a European diplomat told me.

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