Blinken says ball in Iran's court on nuclear deal

Blinken says ball in Iran's court on nuclear deal
2 min read
30 September, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the ball remains in Iran's court to act on the nuclear deal.
Nuclear talks in Vienna have been put on hold for weeks [Getty]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed warnings Thursday that time was running out for Iran to return to a nuclear deal, saying it was up to Tehran to act.

"The ball remains in their court, but not for long," Blinken told reporters in Pittsburgh where he took part in US-EU trade talks.

"There is a limited runway on that, and the runway is getting shorter."

Blinken reiterated that President Joe Biden was willing to return the United States to a 2015 accord in which Iran drastically scaled back nuclear work in return for promises of economic relief.

Former president Donald Trump trashed the deal known formally as the JCPOA and reimposed sweeping sanctions, which Iran wants removed before it undoes a series of steps out of compliance that it took to protest the pressure campaign.

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"Simply getting back to the terms of the JCPOA at some point will not be sufficient to recapture the benefits of the agreement because of the progress Iran has made," Blinken said.

Blinken said that the Biden administration has been engaged "in very good faith for many months" in indirect talks in Vienna with Iran on returning to compliance.

Iran requested a break in talks in June due to a political transition as the ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi became president, replacing Hassan Rouhani who entered the nuclear deal and favoured better relations with the West.

No date has been set for talks to resume, although Raisi has said that he backs diplomacy to end sanctions.

On Thursday, Iran's Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Tehran will decide on a date to return to nuclear talks in Vienna in the coming weeks.