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Blinken warns Iran: Clock is ticking on nuclear talks

WashingtonExaminer
WashingtonExaminer
 2021-07-29

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KUWAIT CITY — Iranian officials have a closing window of opportunity to negotiate a restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal and the lifting of U.S. sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned.

“The fact of the matter is that it is Iran that has decisions to make,” Blinken told reporters at the Kuwaiti foreign ministry. “This process cannot go on indefinitely.”

Blinken marked the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi invaders, just days after President Joe Biden announced the impending end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. The renewal of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is central to Biden's broader U.S. policy for the Middle East, but negotiations have stalled, with Iranian officials balking at the U.S. effort to use the nuclear talks as the first part of a broader negotiation over the regime's non-nuclear aggression.

“By putting this sentence, they want to provide an excuse for their further interventions on the principle of (the deal) and missile program and regional issues,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said Wednesday. “If Iran refuses to discuss them, they will say that you have violated the agreement and the agreement is over.”

U.S. and Iranian officials have conducted several rounds of "indirect" talks in Vienna, mediated by the other signatories of the original 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. But Blinken emphasized Thursday that Biden's desire to return to the pact is dwindling with the passage of time, because the value of the 2015 deal diminishes as Iranian officials continue their policy of ramping up their nuclear program in response to former President Donald Trump's decision to exit the deal and renew sanctions on the regime.

"We will see what Iran is ready to do or not ready to do," Blinken told reporters, adding that the U.S. is "fully prepared" for additional meetings in Vienna. "But as I said, this process cannot and will not go on forever.

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