US officials complain: Iran making it hard to return to nuclear deal

Biden has put the Iranian nuclear issue high on the list of priorities, but so far Tehran has rejected all of his proposals.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Biden administration’s outreach to Iran has been stymied by the lack of direct channels with Tehran and internal disputes in the Iranian leadership, Walla news reported Tuesday.

Administration officials involved in the talks told the Israeli news outlet that the Iranian refusal to negotiate directly, the reliance on mediators that create misunderstandings, Iranian infighting over the issue and the upcoming presidential election in June have all combined to make the return to the nuclear agreement difficult.

President Joe Biden made the return to the 2015 nuclear deal high on his foreign policy priorities and announced earlier that he would be willing to go back and remove the sanctions imposed on Iran during the Trump administration if the Iranians return to fully implementing their commitments under the agreement.

The Iranians have demanded the U.S. make the first move and remove the sanctions and have to-date rejected proposals for direct or indirect talks with Washington.

Senior government officials said all of the talks with Iran over the past two months were indirect via European countries, Russia or China. Those talks take longer and in some cases resulted in misunderstandings.

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The Americans have signaled to Iran in recent weeks that they are ready to take reciprocal initial steps and from there gradually move back to the nuclear deal, or alternatively return with one blow to the mutual and full implementation of the agreement.

On Monday, the American news website Politico reported that the U.S. proposed the Iranians cut back enrichment of uranium to 20% in return for the easing of some of the economic sanctions.

However, a senior Iranian official told state-run Press TV that Tehran would not roll back its violations of the nuclear agreement until the Americans removed all sanctions imposed during the Trump administration.

“The Biden administration is losing time,” the Iranian officials said. “If it does not lift the sanctions, Iran will take further steps to reduce its commitment to the nuclear deal.”

U.S. officials explained that through indirect talks with the Iranians, they were trying to understand what the regime in Tehran was proposing in order to move forward, and so far no clear picture had been obtained.

The Americans believe that the Iranian leadership is divided on how to proceed with the talks on the nuclear agreement.

According to them, it is trying to reach a consensus on the issue, but so far the internal disputes in Tehran have not been resolved on what to do and when to do so – before or after Iran’s presidential election in June.

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A senior Biden administration official told Walla that new ideas are being discussed between the U.S. and the other countries that have signed the nuclear deal.