US ‘preparing equally’ for world with or without Iran nuclear deal
JCPOA ‘very much an uncertain proposition’, says State Department spokesman Ned Price
May 05, 2022
The US is preparing equally for both a return to compliance with Iran on a nuclear deal and a situation with no agreement being reached, the State Department said on Wednesday.
“Because a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is very much an uncertain proposition, we are now preparing equally for either scenario,” Department spokesman Ned Price said.
It comes as Iran’s clerical rulers say they are in no rush to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with world powers to ease sanctions on its energy-reliant economy, three officials told Reuters.
The country has been emboldened by an oil price surge since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Last year, Iran engaged in indirect talks with the US as a route to cancelling US sanctions that have gutted revenues and dramatically worsened economic hardships for ordinary people, stirring discontent.
But the talks have been on hold since March, chiefly over Iran’s insistence on Washington removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Tehran’s elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organisation list.
While the ultimate aim is still to resurrect the deal and so have sanctions lifted, the Iranian officials said soaring oil prices had opened a window of opportunity for Iran by increasing revenues, giving the economy months of breathing space.
Failed talks ‘not the end of the world’
“Our nuclear programme is advancing as planned and time is on our side,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters, declining to be named.
“If the talks fail, it will not be the end of the world.”
The official said the fact Iran’s economy was not now so reliant on a revival of the deal would provide strong leverage for its negotiators if or when the talks resumed.
Iran’s foreign ministry, which handles the nuclear talks, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Iran’s finances came under intense pressure in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump ditched the nuclear pact between Iran and world powers, which was approved by his predecessor Barack Obama. Mr Trump reimposed sanctions that sharply cut the oil revenues that fund a sprawling Iranian state apparatus.