US says Iran’s latest response to nuclear deal ‘not constructive’

Iran sent a written response early Friday in talks on a final draft roadmap for the parties to return to its tattered nuclear deal with world powers, though the United States questioned the offer from Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement that “the text sent has a constructive approach with the aim of finalizing the negotiations”.

However, as with the last round of written submissions and rejoinders, Iran offered no public acknowledgment of what it said. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in the country’s Shiite theocracy, has remained largely silent in recent weeks on the talks.

In Washington, the State Department confirmed that it received Iran’s response through the European Union, which brokered the proxy talks after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled America out of the deal in 2018.

“We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive,” the State Department said, also without giving details on the content of the proposal.

The 2015 deal saw Iran drastically reduce its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Under the deal, Iran could only have 660 pounds of uranium enriched up to 3.67% under the constant control of surveillance cameras and inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Now, however, the latest public count from the IAEA shows that Iran has a stockpile of around 8,370 pounds of enriched uranium. More worrying for non-profiled experts, Iran is now enriching uranium up to 60% purity – a level it has never reached before and which is a technical step away from 90%. These experts warn that Iran has enough 60% enriched uranium to turn it into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

While Iran has long maintained that its program is peaceful, officials are now openly discussing Tehran’s ability to seek an atomic bomb if it wanted to. Meanwhile, a spate of attacks across the Middle East since the collapse of the deal has sparked tensions into the outbreak of a wider conflict.

Both the United States and Iran have tried to portray the ongoing negotiations as tilting in their favor on issues such as US sanctions targeting Tehran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards.

Earlier this week, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi claimed that an IAEA investigation into traces of artificial uranium found at undeclared nuclear sites in the country should be halted.

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