The White House says it is “disappointed” after Iran rejected an offer from the European Union to host talks on the nuclear deal, but the Biden administration and members of the trade bloc signaled they were still open to discussions to rekindle the Obama-era accord.
“While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to re-engage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments,’ a White House spokeswoman said on Sunday, referring to the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
On Monday, Peter Stano, the EU Commission spokesman, said the group’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, “is still prepared to organize a meeting with all parties.”
“For us, as coordinators of the JCPOA, what is important is to continue the engagement,” Stano said. “We took note of their announcement that they don’t see the time right, right now, for such a meeting but the aim … remains to facilitate the full implementation of the JCPOA, and he remains ready to convene all the participants and the U.S. for informal consultations when the time is right.”
The US said it would talk about how to move ahead with those still participating in the 2015 deal – Britain, China, Germany, France, Russia and the EU.
Iran flatly rejected the EU’s offer to host the meeting and reiterated their demand that sanctions reimposed by former President Donald Trump as part of a maximum pressure campaign when he exited the deal in 2018 be lifted before any more negotiations begin.
President Biden has said the US would return to the accord only if Iran fully complies with its requirements.
“Time isn’t ripe for the proposed informal meeting,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
“Remember: Trump failed to meet because of his ill-advised ‘Max Failure.’ With sanctions in place, same still applies. Censuring is NOT diplomacy. It doesn’t work with Iran,” Khatibzadeh said.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman.
“Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region,” Netanyahu said, adding that it was “indeed an act by Iran, that’s clear.”
A mysterious blast damaged the MV Helios Ray last Friday as it left the Middle East on its way to Singapore.
No one was injured in the explosion, but it tore four holes in the cargo ship, which sailed into Dubai’s port for repairs on Sunday.
Iran denied any involvement.
Khatibzadeh said the Israeli leader was “suffering from an obsession with Iran.”
With Post wires