Blinken to counterparts: US prepared to talk to Iran

Secretary of State tells European counterparts that the US is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran in attempt to agree on returning to full compliance with 2015 deal.

Elad Benari ,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
State Department Photo by Freddie Everett

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his counterparts from France, Germany and the UK (known as the E3) in a video conference on Thursday that the US is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran in an attempt to reach an agreement on returning to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

According to a joint statement published after the call and quoted by Axios, the US and the E3 stressed that Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal.

Blinken reiterated that if Iran resumes strict compliance with its commitments, the US will do the same.

Blinken and his counterparts called on Iran not to move forward with its plan to stop implementing the “additional protocol” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty starting February 23, that would see Iran suspend the ability of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to conduct unannounced visits to nuclear sites.

"The E3 and the United States are united in underlining the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access, and urge Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity," the statement read, according to Axios.

Blinken and his counterparts also expressed concern over Iran's production of both 20% enriched uranium and uranium metal, both violations of the nuclear deal and steps toward the development of nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later responded to the joint statement and said, "Instead of putting onus on Iran they must abide by own commitments and demand an end to Trump's legacy of economic terrorism against Iran."

The fate of the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers remains unclear.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 agreement nearly three years ago and reimposed sanctions on Iran. The Islamic Republic, in turn, has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

Current President Joe Biden has expressed a desire to return to the 2015 agreement but has stressed he would return to the 2015 agreement if Iran returned to compliance with it.

Iran has repeatedly made clear that it will not renegotiate the original agreement. Biden, for his part, has stressed that the US will not lift its sanctions on Tehran until Iran freezes its uranium enrichment.