Nuclear talks ‘hit a wall’ because of Iran’s ‘unreasonable’ stance — US official

Negotiations between world powers to revive the Iran nuclear deal have “hit a wall” a senior State Department official said Thursday, blaming Tehran for the latest impasse.

Iran continues to insist that the International Atomic Energy Agency close its investigations into mysterious traces of uranium it identified at the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites, the senior US official told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level week, calling the demand “unreasonable.”

The official did not elaborate further.

Raisi was pressed on the matter during a meeting on Thursday with a select group of reporters. “If we are going to be faced with a situation where the files remain open on an ongoing basis, so we are back to square one,” he said, according to Laura Rosen, one of the journalists in the room.

Just a day earlier, US Special Envoy on Iran Robert Malley told Israel’s Channel 12 that if Iran continues to insist that the IAEA close its investigations, there will be no possibility of a return to the nuclear deal.

Malley said that Iran “resurrected” an unrelated dispute with the UN’s nuclear watchdog in its most recent response to a European Union proposal to revive the 2015 pact.

President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, center, is escorted after arrival at UN headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

“Either Iran resolves it by cooperating with the IAEA or it won’t be resolved,” Malley said. “If that’s the position that Iran sticks to, there can’t be a deal.”

Last month, the EU put forward a “final” draft of the agreement to return to the nuclear deal. Iran and the US then took turns responding to the text, with Washington calling Iran’s latest reply a step “backward.”

EU-brokered negotiations taking place in Vienna since April 2021 have aimed to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which then-US president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, reimposing biting sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Tehran subsequently rolled back on its commitments under the agreement and began to rapidly enrich and stockpile uranium.

Footage of the Natanz nuclear facility aired by Iranian state TV on April 17, 2021. (Screen capture/Twitter)

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Raisi insisted that his country’s nuclear program was peaceful and that he was “serious” about negotiations.

“Our wish is only one thing: observance of commitments,” Raisi said, noting that it was the US that pulled out of the accord.

Israel has pushed its Western allies not to return to the JCPOA and has long been concerned Iran intends to build nuclear weapons — an accusation the Islamic Republic has long denied.

Jerusalem has most recently speculated that Iran and world powers will return to the nuclear deal before the November midterm elections in the US.