The United States’ initial reaction to Iran's comments on revitalizing the JCPOA indicates that the White House is still in two minds about a lasting agreement.
In the early hours of Friday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced it had submitted Tehran's views on the U.S. response to the EU draft deal to the European coordinator of the talks after several days of expert reviews.
In the last round of the Vienna talks to revive the JCPOA, the European Union's proposal was considered by the negotiating parties, and finally a draft text was written and provided to Iran and the United States.
A week later, Tehran sent its views on the draft text to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who acts as the coordinator of the talks, and the U.S. gave its response after a considerable delay.
Now, in a hasty reaction to Tehran’s latest comments on Washington’s response and before expert reviews, the White House rejected Tehran's views as “not constructive”.
ISNA news agency wrote that Iran prepared its latest response in a way to accelerate and facilitate the conclusion of the talks and clearly stated that it will be ready to hold a ministerial meeting to announce a final deal within the few upcoming days if Tehran’s demands are met.
U.S State Department spokesman Vedant Patel tried to throw the ball in Iran’s court with a statement that apparently sought to evade responsibility.
"We can confirm that we have received Iran's response through the EU," Patel said late Thursday in Washington.
"We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive."
At the same time, some Western media followed in the U.S. footsteps to poison the atmosphere and portray Iran as the party to blame for a possible failure.
“Prospects for reviving the Iran nuclear deal appeared to take a step backward Thursday as the Biden administration said Tehran’s latest proposals, submitted through the European Union, were not constructive,” The Washington Post wrote.
Laurence Norman, a Wall Street Journal journalist, cast doubts on the conclusion of the Vienna talks next week.
A day before Iran’s latest response, French President Emmanuel Macron hoped a deal to revive the JCPOA would be concluded in the coming days.
Earlier, many others, including Borrell and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, had expressed hope that the JCPOA would be revived.
Now, it seems that the Biden administration has not been able to withstand the pressure exerted by the JCPOA opponents at home and abroad and is trying to put the blame on Iran for the possible collapse of the talks or the delay in reaching a deal.
A bipartisan group of 50 U.S. lawmakers, 34 Democrats and 16 Republicans, wrote to Biden on Thursday to express “deep concern” about a looming agreement on the JCPOA, urging the U.S. administration to “provide Congress with the full text of any proposal to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement, and consult with Congress prior to reentering that agreement”.
Mohammad Marandi, a political expert close to Iran's negotiating team, tweeted that it was upon the U.S. to “take a serious decision”.
“For the U.S., constructive means accepting America's conditions. For Iran, it means reaching a balanced and guaranteed agreement. If the U.S. makes the right decision, the agreement can be concluded quickly,” Marandi said.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian emphasized in a phone conversation with his Omani counterpart after sending Iran's response that Tehran is determined to reach a “good, lasting and strong agreement”.
Although the U.S. has not officially announced its response to Iran's views, its hasty reaction indicates that the White House only thinks of its own interests, interpreting Iran's stance to secure its interests as “not constructive”. No doubt Washington is to blame for the status quo, as it was the U.S. that unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal, and not Iran.