The U.S. and Iran on Monday held their seventh round of indirect talks as part of efforts to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. The talks came more than five months after the countries' last discussion in Vienna.
The Biden administration is stressing that diplomacy with Iran is the last, best chance to box in their nuclear ambitions and prevent Tehran from building a weapon of mass destruction.
Officials have played down reports that they are considering an interim deal with Iran, or talks outside the parameters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the 2015 deal.
There’s also concern over Iran’s blocking inspectors with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from key nuclear facilities, in particular in the city of Karaj where Iran has reportedly begun producing centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi raised concerns last week with the IAEA’s 35-country board of governors that Iran’s obstruction of nuclear inspections risks its ability to return to the JCPOA.
Elisa Ewers, adjunct senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security’s Middle East Security program, said in a statement that Iran's return to Vienna is a signal it takes the IAEA warning seriously.
“This suggests Iranian efforts to avoid increased pressure and buy time,” she said. “...This denial of monitoring access has been one of Iran’s more concerning steps in recent months.”
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