Iran says 'time not ripe' for talks on nuclear deal

01 March 2021

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, says "the time is not ripe" for an unofficial meeting proposed by Josep Borrell, EU foreign affairs chief and coordinator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). His statement follows Iran's commencement last week of restrictions on some site inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Saeed Khatibzadeh yesterday (Image: Iranian Foreign Ministry)

The EU had suggested holding talks in Europe that would include all of the remaining participants in the 2015 deal - Iran plus China, the E3 (France, Germany and the UK), and Russia, as well as with the USA. US President Joe Biden's administration said it would attend the meeting, with Washington’s envoy Rob Malley to participate. State Department spokesman Ned Price had said on 18 February that the USA would accept an invitation from the EU "to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear programme".

But Khatibzadeh said yesterday: "There has been no change in the United States' stances and behaviour, and the Biden administration has not only failed to abandon Trump's failed policy of maximum pressure, but has also failed to declare its commitment to the implementation of all its obligations under the JCPoA and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231." Implementation of commitments by all parties to the JCPoA is "not a matter of negotiation" and "all options for give-and-take were exhausted five years ago", he said.

The USA must lift its sanctions against Iran and return to its commitments under the JCPoA, he said. "This issue neither needs negotiation, nor a resolution by the Board of Governors [of the IAEA] … Iran will continue its "close bilateral and multilateral consultations with the current parties to the JCPoA as well as Mr Borrell as the JCPoA coordinator."

The IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) confirmed on 22 February that Iran would stop the implementation of the voluntary measures as envisaged in the JCPoA, thus enabling the AEOI to comply with a law passed by the Iranian parliament in December.

On his return from meetings in Tehran, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced that his agency and the AEOI had agreed to "a temporary bilateral technical understanding", compatible with this law, whereby the IAEA will continue with its necessary verification and monitoring activities for up to three months. Grossi said the AEOI had reiterated that Iran continues to implement "fully and without limitation" its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as before.

According to the BBC, a White House spokesman said that, following Khatibzadeh's statement yesterday, the USA would now consult with other parties to the nuclear deal "on the best way forward".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News