U.S. Seeks to Revive Iran Talks by Working Through Allies

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken is discussing options with European allies to revive the Iran nuclear accord “through a series of initial and mutual steps,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Wednesday.

Blinken explored the possibilities with the allies during meetings in Brussels last week, Price said, adding that the U.S. remains committed to a joint return to the multinational nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned.

“Those discussions have been ongoing about the best way to achieve compliance,” Price said. “We have been looking at options of doing so, including through indirect conversations with European partners.”

The U.S. is trying to use Europe an an intermediary with Iran after Tehran refused to join direct talks with the Biden administration. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this month that his nation was in “no hurry” to revive the nuclear deal and said U.S. policy was doomed to fail unless sanctions against the Islamic Republic were first removed.

Khamenei, who is head of state and whose opinions have a direct bearing on Iran’s governance, reiterated that his government was still prepared to return to the original terms of the nuclear deal once the U.S. has tangibly and “verifiably” lifted the sanctions.

In a discussion on the Clubhouse audio-chat platform late Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that President Joe Biden hasn’t made any changes to Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy. He reiterated that if the U.S. fully returns to compliance with the deal, Iran would follow suit immediately and scale-back its nuclear activities.

Zarif said Iran was prepared to choreograph the full return of both sides, which he said is far preferable to taking gradual or temporary steps toward an eventual reinstatement of the original deal.

Biden administration officials are planning to to put forth a new proposal to jump-start the talks as soon as this week, Politico reported on Monday. The proposal asks Iran to halt some of its escalating nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to 20% purity, in exchange for some relief from U.S. economic sanctions, it said, citing officials it didn’t identify.

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