The US State Department says issues remain unresolved and the Biden administration is still conducting “consultations”.
The Biden administration said it was “encouraged” that Iran appears to have dropped some of its demands in response to a proposed relaunch of its nuclear deal, stressing that Washington is working to “quickly” secure a mutual return to compliance with the agreement.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday that the United States was formulating a response to Iran’s response to the European Union-led proposal and would forward it. after internal consultations and discussions with allies.
Price suggested that Iran should no longer request the removal of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTO) – a request that had been explicitly rejected by US President Joe Biden.
“We are encouraged that Iran appears to have dropped some of its non-starting demands, such as lifting the FTO designation from the IRGC. But…there are still outstanding issues that need to be resolved, gaps that need to be filled if we’re able to get there,” Price said.
The 2015 multilateral pact, which was canceled by former US President Donald Trump, saw Iran reduce its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions on its economy.
Tehran has been advancing its nuclear program since 2018 in response to a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign by Trump that the Biden administration continues to enforce.
Numerous rounds of indirect negotiations in Vienna and Doha between Tehran and Washington over the past 16 months have failed to return to the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
But earlier this month the European Union presented what it described as “final text” for a renewed deal. Iran last week submitted a response to the draft, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as “reasonable”.
Still, Washington and Tehran traded accusations again on Monday over which side is delaying a return to the deal.
“What matters so far is [the] dithering on the American side to offer an answer,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters on Monday.
For his part, Price said the EU proposal is based on a draft approved by the United States in March that the Iranians did not accept, rejecting the idea that Washington is delaying the conclusion of the JCPOA talks.
“If there had been an outspoken Iranian response, a clear ‘yes’ response, I’m not sure we would be back and forth like we are now,” Price told reporters.
The nuclear deal continues to face opposition from Republicans and some hawkish Democrats ahead of the crucial U.S. midterm elections in November, which will decide which party controls Congress for the next two years.
On Monday, Price defended the Biden administration’s efforts to join the deal, calling the JCPOA “the most effective way” to address concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
“We have said since we started on this path in the spring of last year that if Iran is ready to fully implement its commitments under the 2015 agreement, then we are ready to do same,” Price said.
Ahead of a visit to Israel in July, Biden did not rule out using force as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Tehran denies having sought one.