Iran said on Thursday it saw no point in reviving a 2015 nuclear pact without guarantees that the United States would not withdraw again and unless UN inspectors close investigations into Iran’s atomic program. Tehran, a position that a US official dismissed as “unreasonable”.
Pointing to the failure of attempts by the UN General Assembly to break a deadlock, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said: “What is the point of having a renewed agreement without ensuring guarantees that the United States will not violate more ?
After a meeting with Raisi on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said “the ball to reach a nuclear deal with Iran is now in Tehran’s court.”
But Raisi, in a televised press conference, accused the European sides of the deal and the United States of failing to revive it.
“How can we have a lasting deal if these probes aren’t closed? We can have a good deal if the Americans and the Europeans stick to their commitments.”
In addition to asking for guarantees, the Islamic Republic wants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, to drop its years-long investigation into unexplained traces of uranium found at three undeclared sites in Iran.
Speaking to reporters, a senior US State Department official declined to pressure the IAEA to close these investigations unless Iran provides satisfactory answers.
“In a nutshell, we’ve hit a wall because of Iran’s position, and I think their position is so unreasonable in terms of what they’re asking about the IAEA’s investigation into the presence unexplained traces of uranium particles,” he said.
“They are asking us and European countries to put pressure on the IAEA and its director general to shut down these probes, which we will not do,” added the American official. “We respect the independence of the IAEA and the integrity of the IAEA.”
The resolution of so-called “safeguards” investigations is essential for the IAEA, which seeks to ensure that parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty do not secretly divert nuclear material which they could use to manufacture a armed.
Iran denies any such ambition. The 2015 deal limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
But then-US President Donald Trump scrapped the deal in 2018, saying it was not doing enough to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and regional influence. , and reimposed sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
In response, Tehran broke the deal by replenishing stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher fissile purity, and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production.
Months of indirect talks between Iran and US President Joe Biden’s administration seemed close to resuming in March in Vienna, but negotiations broke down due to obstacles such as Iran’s demand that states States provide guarantees that no future US president would abandon the IAEA agreement and safeguards.
Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political agreement rather than a legally binding treaty.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday he hoped to speak to Iranian officials about the investigation, but insisted it would not simply disappear. Western diplomats said they would not back down on this issue and that it was up to Iran to make the right choice.