Nuclear talks in Vienna
Nuclear talks in ViennaReuters

The United States and Iran are not discussing an interim nuclear deal, a US official said on Monday, according to the Reuters news agency.

The official stated that Washington has told Tehran of steps that might trigger a crisis and also those that may create a better climate between the long-time antagonists.

"There are no talks about an interim deal," said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

His comment went further than a US denial last week, which called a report the nations were nearing an interim deal "false and misleading" and said reports of such a deal were "false" but did not deny the possibility of talks about one.

The official did not deny media reports of recent US-Iranian contacts but rather said that suggestions they were about an interim nuclear deal were inaccurate.

"We have made clear to them what escalatory steps they needed to avoid to prevent a crisis and what de-escalatory steps they could take to create a more positive context," he said, according to Reuters.

Earlier on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed reports of indirect talks with the US in Oman, but denied it was interested an interim deal with Washington.

His comments come after Barak Ravid of Axios reported that Brett McGurk, US President Joe Biden’s senior Middle East adviser, took a low-profile trip to Oman in May for talks with Omani officials on possible diplomatic outreach to Iran regarding its nuclear program.

Axios had previously reported that the Biden administration discussed with its European and Israeli partners a possible proposal for an interim agreement with Iran that would include some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran freezing parts of its nuclear program.

The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers hit a snag in 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Iran, in turn, began to scale back its compliance with the deal.

Attempts by the Biden administration to negotiate a return to the deal with Iran have failed, as US officials blamed Iran's insistence on the closure of the UN nuclear watchdog's investigations against it.