An Iranian government spokesman said on Tuesday that the country’s Supreme National Security Council has rejected what he claimed was a proposed agreement to restore the accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Ali Rabiei said the council, which holds significant sway on national security decisions, decided the proposal did not meet the terms of a Iranian law that would end cooperation with United Nations nuclear inspectors in February if the United States did not unilaterally lift sanctions.
While Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency later reached an agreement to extend the organization’s access to video surveillance at nuclear sites — a key element of the 2015 nuclear deal — that deal expired last month.
The law also calls for Iran to further boost uranium enrichment to levels barred under the nuclear accord, whose formal name is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“Thus, with the final decision of the supreme decision-making bodies that the negotiations will continue until all the demands set forth in this law are met, the negotiations will be postponed until after the complete transfer of the administration, and the new negotiating team will be responsible for it,” Rabiei was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency, referring to the inauguration next month of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi.
He added: “The principled positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the JCPOA have always been prepared and followed according to the instructions of the supreme decision-making bodies.”
However, a spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council later disputed Rabiei’s comments, saying its members talked about “important issues on which the Vienna talks have failed to reach an agreement due to the bullying of the US and some European parties.”
“talking about the conformity or non-conformity of something that has no external reality cannot be relevant,” Keyvan Khosravi was quoted saying by the Tasnim news agency.
There has been no confirmation from the US of such a proposal and the State Department has previously denied any final deal has been reached between the sides.
Over the weekend, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said negotiations in Vienna on restoring the nuclear deal will not resume until the hardline Raisi takes office.
Iran and the US have been holding indirect talks in Vienna since April over a return to the Joint deal, which granted Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for significant curbs on its nuclear program.
Former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions against Iran, which led the Islamic Republic to step up uranium enrichment to its highest-ever levels in violation of the accord.
The sixth round of talks adjourned in late June, and while the Biden administration has expressed interest in returning to the negotiation table, US officials have voiced increasing pessimism regarding the chances for an agreement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.