Speaking exclusively to The National, State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet stated that a “clear offer” has been made to the Iranians “after weeks of painstaking negotiations”.
He added that “the ball is in Iran’s court right now”.
However, the Iranians have yet to respond to the offer, as they seek to expand the benefits reaped from a potential deal, including removing the IRGC from the US blacklist of foreign terrorist organisations, a listing dating back to 2019 under president Donald Trump. The move was part of the previous administration’s efforts to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran.
Responding to a question about the terrorist designation of the IRGC, Chollet said “it’s unrelated to the nuclear issue … so we see that as a separate issue. And we have made that very clear.”
The US is not engaging directly with the Iranians in the negotiations being held in Vienna, and has been eager to get a deal concluded. However, Chollet noted that his country would be willing to walk away if necessary.
“Our bottom line remains the same, which is Iran cannot be allowed to have the capability to have a nuclear weapon,” he added.
He went on to tell The National: “We have what we believe is a good way forward in terms of the return of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] … but Iran has not yet responded to that.”
Iran insists that the nuclear talks must lead to the removal of all American sanctions that were imposed against Tehran following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the landmark agreement in May 2018. Tehran has also demanded credible guarantees that Washington will not abandon the deal again.
Iranian officials have stressed the IRGC is a national army and no one can blacklist a national army as a terrorist entity.