Sep 2, 2022 - World

U.S. calls Iran response to nuclear deal plans "not constructive"

A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, during an official ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility.

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant in 2019. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iran's negotiators sent another written response to European Union's draft nuclear deal Thursday night local time, which was met with disappointment by the Biden administration. 

Why it matters: It is now unlikely that a deal will be signed in the coming days. The back and forth written exchanges are expected to continue and could lead to the Biden administration deciding not to sign the deal before the November midterm election. 

Driving the news: The EU tabled a draft agreement several weeks ago. 

  • The first Iranian response created optimism that a deal could be reached, but the second one on Thursday changed this assessment.
  • The Iranian news website Etemad reported that in their response Iranian officials wrote that if their last comments were met they were ready to hold a foreign ministers meeting next week and sign the deal. 

What they're saying: An Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said "the submitted text has a constructive approach aimed at finalizing the talks."

  • The Biden administration disagrees with this assessment. A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. was studying the Iranian response, but stressed that a preliminary reading of it showed it was "not constructive."
  • A White House National Security Council spokesperson said on Friday that it is "clear from Iran’s response that these gaps still remain. Iran’s response did not put us in a position to close a deal, as we will not close a deal unless Iran meets the terms that we have set forth. We are not there yet."

A senior European official directly involved in the talks with Iran said the Iranian response reopened the issue of IAEA investigations that the U.S. and E3 (UK, France and Germany) thought was solved.

  • "The Iranian response was totally unreasonable. It reopens the EU coordinator’s text on nuclear safeguards, which was at the outer limits of our flexibility already — and which the Iranians implicitly accepted in their Aug. 15 response," the official said.
  • "This can only be read as they do not want to close this deal," the European official added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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