Blinken Says Lack Of Iran-IAEA Monitoring Deal A Serious Concern
The lack of an interim agreement between the UN nuclear watchdog and Iran on the monitoring of nuclear activities is a serious concern that has been communicated to Tehran, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
Struck on February 21, the interim monitoring deal was valid for three months, then extended by a month on May 24. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said it expired on Thursday. It is in talks with Iran on another extension.
"This remains a serious concern," Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Paris alongside his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. "The concern has been communicated to Iran and needs to be resolved.
A spokesman for the IAEA said that Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi would inform the IAEA Board of Governors on the matter during Friday.
Tehran started violating some of the limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, in 2019 while sticking to its position that it had no nuclear weapons ambitions. Iran’s action was in response to heavy sanctions imposed by the Trump administration when it left the JCPOA. President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the agreement.
Iran has elevated both the level and quantity of the uranium it enriches far beyond the limits of the deal. Some of the uranium is enriched to above 60 percent purity, which takes Iran very close to obtaining 90 percent enriched fissile material for making a nuclear bomb.
All sides have been negotiating in Vienna since early April to find a way to resume compliance, but a sixth round of indirect talks adjourned on Sunday with key issues still unresolved.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday a nuclear deal with Iran is "within reach", But Blinken sounded much more guarded.
"We still have significant differences with Iran," Blinken said, adding that he hoped a resumption of talks in the coming days could resolve them.
Blinken, who said talks would not last indefinitely, said the immediate priority was to put the nuclear deal "back in the box", but that the United States and its partners would also have the tools if a deal was agreed to handle Iran's regional and missile activities.
Le Drian echoed those comments saying the ball was in the court of Iran's decision makers and that the negotiations had now entered their toughest stage.
"We're waiting for Iranian authorities to take the final difficult decisions to allow for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal," he said.
With reporting by Reuters