News 23 february — 10:10

US says Iran has not formally responded to talks offer

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Iran has yet to formally respond to an offer of talks the US made last week to resume negotiations aimed at returning the Islamic Republic to full compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal, the State Department said Monday. 

The Biden administration is "not measuring" progress with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program "in minutes or hours," Spokesman Ned Price told reporters, but is instead seeking to act "in lockstep" with its European allies and negotiating partners.

“If this does come to fruition, the talks with Iran in the P5+1 context, we will of course be there with our European allies, and we will be there to undertake the hard diplomacy, the discussions that can lead us to that point where Iran can resume full compliance and the United States can be prepared to do the same,” he said. 

Momentum towards returning the US and Iran to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has been stalled since US President Joe Biden took office last month over disagreements between Washington and Tehran as to who must take the first steps. 

The nuclear agreement was signed in 2015 by Iran, and the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, and Germany -- collectively known as the P5+1 -- as well as the EU.

Iran maintains that since former US President Donald Trump chose to unilaterally leave the deal in 2018, and re-imposed biting economic sanctions on the country, Biden must first act before it will move renege on retaliatory steps it took in violation of the agreement's nuclear curbs.

The impasse has endured for over a month, and the US on Thursday reached out to Iran through its European allies to sit down for talks under the P5+1's auspices.

Iran's Supreme Leader on Monday said his country "will not back down" on its right to pursue its nuclear program, and warned uranium enrichment could go up to 60%, maintaining if it is done it will be for civilian use. 

Iran is further slated to stop adhering to the Additional Protocol to Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on Feb. 23, which would limit the UN nuclear watchdog's access to its nuclear sites.

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