The United States and Iran aren’t in discussions about an interim nuclear deal, a US official said on Monday, but Washington has informed Tehran of steps that could spark a crisis and those that could create a better atmosphere between the two sides.
“There are no talks about an interim agreement,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official’s comment confirms a denial issued by the United States last week, describing a report that the two countries were close to concluding an interim agreement as false and misleading.
He said reports of such an agreement were false, but he didn’t rule out the possibility.
The US official didn’t deny media reports of recent US-Iranian contacts, but made it clear that speculation that they were focused on an interim nuclear deal was inaccurate.
“We explained to them the escalatory steps they need to avoid so that a crisis does not occur and what de-escalation steps they can take to create a more positive context,” he continued.
He declined to provide details, but indicated that Washington would like to see more Iranian cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations.
US and European officials have been searching for ways to curb Tehran’s nuclear program since the collapse of indirect US-Iranian talks last year on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
Under the deal, which aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program and more intensive UN inspections in exchange for relief from UN, US and EU sanctions.
Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed US sanctions, to which Tehran responded by gradually abandoning the restrictions stipulated in the agreement, which brought back US, European and Israeli fears that Iran might seek to obtain an atomic bomb, while Iran denies the that it has such ambition.
Although the US official refused to go into details, it appeared that the recent US messages to Iran aimed at limiting the damage.
US President Joe Biden’s administration repeatedly says that it will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and that all options are on the table, a diplomatic language that may mean the possibility of a military strike.