U.S. downplays possibility of quick return to Iran nuke deal

U.S. downplays possibility of quick return to Iran nuke deal

Significant gaps remain between the US and Iran on a mutual return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior State Department official said Thursday in a stark departure from comments made in Tehran

"There has been some reporting that we basically have a deal already with Iran, that it’s just a matter of deciding when we’re going to put it out.  Let me make it absolutely clear:  We just concluded round six.  We will be resuming – or coming back for round seven sometime in the not-too-distant future, and we wouldn’t be doing that if the deal were already done," the diplomat said.

He stressed that they still have serious differences that have not been bridged: serious differences with Iran over the host of issues, whether it’s the nuclear steps that Iran needs to take to come back into compliance, the sanctions relief that the U.S. will be offering, or the sequence of steps that both sides would be taking. 

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  And since everything is not agreed, we still don’t have anything nailed down.  And there’s still some very important issues that need to be resolved. By the same token, we wouldn’t be going back for a seventh round if we didn’t think that a deal was possible," the official stressed.

Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and went on to re-impose sanctions on Tehran lifted under the agreement in a failed push to bring Iran back to the negotiating table for a more extensive agreement.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the pact is formally known, placed sweeping constraints on Iran's nuclear program and created a robust inspections regime in exchange for the lifting of biting international and US sanctions.