Stalemate on nuclear deal: US rejects Iran's latest response

Despite Tehran's belief that "a deal could be reached quickly", Washington does not consider the text submitted by Iran to be "constructive"

PHOTO/FILE  -   Combination of images of U.S. President Joe Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

New disagreements between the US and Iran over the nuclear deal. After several weeks of progress to overcome the stalemate and positive messages from the negotiating parties, Tehran has already sent a "constructive" response to the US proposals.

As Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, "the text sent has a constructive approach aimed at concluding the negotiations," according to Iranian state media IRIB. Similarly, the spokesman for the Iranian delegation at the Vienna talks, Mohammad Marandi, believes that "a quick agreement could be reached" if the US made the "right decision".

PHOTO/ Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP - Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani

Washington, however, has not described Iran's response in the same way. "Unfortunately it is not constructive," said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson, as quoted by Reuters.

Watson said they are studying the text and will respond through the European Union. "Some gaps have been closed in recent weeks, but others remain," she added. The spokeswoman also said that US President Joe Biden would only sign the deal if it "serves the national security of the United States".

After 16 months of indirect talks between the US and Iran, the EU submitted a final draft in early August to return to the 2015 deal. Washington studied the European proposal and sent its response to Tehran's demands to Brussels, the main mediator between the two sides. 

AFP/AFP - Map of Iran with major nuclear facilities

In parallel, the Iranian regime has continued to defend its position. Tehran continues to demand that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard be removed from the list of terrorist organisations and that sanctions be lifted. Also, during a recent speech on the first anniversary of the new Iranian government, President Ebrahim Raisi stressed the need for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to end its research in the country. "Without resolving these problems, there is no point in reaching an agreement," Raisi said.

Shortly afterwards, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian reiterated the president's assertions. The head of Iranian diplomacy urged the IAEA to abandon its "politicised investigations" into Iran's nuclear work. Amirabdollahian also stressed that his country needs "stronger guarantees from the other side to reach a sustainable agreement".

Moreover, Tehran considers it essential that the US commits itself to staying in the nuclear deal regardless of the government in power. However, the Biden administration has pointed out that this is "not possible" as the deal is "a non-binding political agreement and not a legally binding treaty". 

REUTERS/DADO RUVIC - Iranian and US flags

Despite the new disagreements between the US and Iran, there have been several recent optimistic comments about the nuclear deal. French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped that "in the next few days the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) will be concluded". Earlier in the week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby was also optimistic about the deal.

"We are still hopeful that we can get back to implementing the JCPOA," he told reporters. According to Kirby, the agreement is "closer today than it has been in recent weeks and months". This is because, he explained, "Iran is willing to drop some of its demands that were not related to the agreement at all".

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra