US says sanctions and Iran’s development of nuclear programme hamper dialogue with Tehran

US spokesman says both sides are working on leverage against each other

The United States is interested in reaching agreement with Iran rather than escalating tensions. An unnamed US official told Reuters on Monday evening commenting on Iranian leaders’ statements about the possibility of enriching uranium to 60 percent.

The official said it “would be very worrisome if Iran reached the 60% level, but that has not happened yet.” The US “would like to find a way for the parties not to feel the need to escalate” but instead to return to agreement.

In his view, both sides are working on leverage against each other.

“They [the Iranians] are with their steps in the nuclear sphere, we are with the sanctions imposed. This is not helping either side,” he believes. At the same time, the US representative sees no need to focus on Tehran’s statements about further building up its nuclear programme. “Until you get back to negotiations, both sides are taking positions, <…> building up rhetoric. This is not something to focus on. We will see if they [the Iranians] agree to come back to the negotiating table”, –  the official said. – “But, no doubt, if we don’t come to an understanding, they will continue to expand their nuclear programme.”

The day before, Iranian spiritual leader and leader Ali Khamenei had allowed the possibility that Iran would go ahead with enriching uranium to 60 per cent.

Previous US President Donald Trump decided in 2018 to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme (JCPOA). The JCPOA was signed with Iran by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in 2015 to resolve the crisis over Tehran’s nuclear developments. Current US leader Joe Biden has repeatedly signalled a willingness to bring the US back into the JCPOA. However, so far the US government has not made any meaningful steps in this direction.


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