© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility 250 km (155 miles) south of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
By John Irish, Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed PARIS / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Thursday that it was ready to speak with Iran about the return of both nations to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, seeking to revive a deal Washington abandoned nearly three years ago. Iran reacted coldly to the US idea, which was relayed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a video meeting with his British, French and German counterparts meeting in Paris. Blinken reiterated the US position that President Joe Biden‘s administration would revert to the agreement formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran fully complied with the agreement. “Secretary Blinken reiterated that … if Iran strictly again complies with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will follow suit and is prepared to enter into talks with Iran to that end,” a joint statement by the four nations. saying. A US official told Reuters that Washington would respond positively to any invitation from the European Union to talks between Iran and the six major powers that negotiated the original deal: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. “We are ready to present ourselves if such a meeting takes place,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity, after a senior EU official said he was prepared to call such a meeting between the parties to the agreement. London, Paris and Berlin welcomed Biden’s intention to return to diplomacy with Iran. But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded that it was Washington who should take the first step. Iran began breaching the deal in 2019 after former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal and reimposed economic sanctions. Tehran has accelerated its violations in recent months and has been caught in a confrontation with the Biden administration over who should act first to save the deal. “Instead of sophistry and holding Iran accountable, the E3 / EU should live up to its own commitments and demand an end to Trump’s legacy of #Economic Terrorism against Iran,” Zarif said in a tweet. “Our corrective actions are a response to the US / E3 violations. Eliminate the cause if you fear the effect,” he continued. “We will continue ACTION with (with) action.” URANIUM ENRICHMENT A French diplomatic source said Washington’s shift marked an opening for Iran, but the road ahead is fraught with obstacles. “The Americans said they were available to speak to Iran” at a meeting together with the original parties to the agreement, “he said after the talks in Paris.” It’s an opening. “Tehran has set a deadline next week for Biden to begin rolling back sanctions imposed by Trump, or says it will take its biggest step yet to violate the deal: banning inspections on short notice by part. The UN nuclear watchdog allowed under an Additional Protocol. The United States asked Iran not to take any additional action “with respect to the suspension of the Additional Protocol and any limitation of the IAEA’s verification activities in Iran.” Ministers said they were determined that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon and “expressed their shared concerns about recent actions by Iran to produce both uranium enriched by up to 20% and metallic uranium,” the statement added. High levels of fissile purity is a potential avenue for nuclear bombs, although Iran has long said that its e enrichment is for peaceful energy purposes only. The 20% enrichment is well above the 3.67% limit of the agreement, although still well below the 90% that is the weapons grade.