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A new Iran nuclear deal is looking increasingly unlikely after U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Iran had taken “a step backward” with its latest comments on the final proposal brokered and compiled by the EU.
“What we’ve seen over the last week or so in Iran’s response to the proposal put forward by the European Union is clearly a step backward and makes prospects for an agreement in the near-term, I would say, unlikely,” Blinken told media as cited by CNN.
“They continue to try to introduce extraneous issues to the negotiation that make an agreement less likely,” Washington's top diplomat also said. “But certainly what we’ve seen in the last week is a step backward away from the likelihood of any kind of near-term agreement.”
Iran and the United States are indirectly negotiating – via the mediation of the European Union – a return to the so-called nuclear deal, which could ultimately lead to the lifting of the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports that had been lifted in the wake of the original deal in 2015.
Iran sent a written response to the proposal in early September saying it had “a constructive approach with the aim of finalizing the negotiations.” The U.S., however, did not see that response as constructive, effectively killing the chances of a quick wrap-up of the negotiations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, meanwhile, reported that it could not provide assurances that Iran’s nuclear program was entirely peaceful, which further complicated matters. According to Blinken, Iran is either “unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement.”
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com