U.S. official denies any talks with Iran on temporary deal

Washington and Tehran are not discussing an interim nuclear agreement, an American official has said, but the United States has reportedly told Iran 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 U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

His comment went further than a U.S. 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 U.S.-Iranian contacts but rather stated 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 added, declining to detail these but noting Washington would like to see greater Iranian cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, has also rejected reports of an interim agreement with the U.S. as media speculation.

He told reporters on Monday that no framework other than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is being considered and all reports on an interim deal are politicized and aimed at undermining the current talks.

Iran has cautioned the United States that the window of opportunity for an agreement on reviving the nuclear deal will not remain open forever, urging Washington to adopt a constructive approach to salvage the accord.

Iran showed to the world the peaceful nature of its nuclear program by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with six world states — namely the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China. But, Washington’s unilateral withdrawal in May 2018 and its subsequent re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran left the future of the deal in limbo.

Negotiations between the parties to the landmark agreement kicked off in Vienna in April 2021, with the intention of bringing the U.S. back into the deal and putting an end to its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

The discussions, however, have been at a standstill since August 2022 due to Washington’s insistence on not lifting all of the anti-Iran sanctions and offering the necessary guarantees that it will not exit the agreement again.

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