US Losing Patience With Iran on Nuclear Talks, May Abandon Effort, Official Says

The Biden administration's patience with Iran is wearing thin as talks on its nuclear program reach three months without action, leading officials to warn that it may soon lose interest in negotiations.

According to a senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on the condition he not be named, said further delays while Iran continues to grow its nuclear capabilities could cause the U.S. and its allies to walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Diplomats from the other parties to the deal have met with Iran's foreign minister at the annual United Nations General Assembly, trying to estimate Tehran's desire to re-enter the talks in Vienna.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Blinden UN Assembly
The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, met Tuesday with Iran's new foreign minister ahead of meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Above, Blinken meets with Foreign Ministers of the ASEAN Nations on September 23, 2021, at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Kena Betancur/Pool Photo via AP

While Iran has said it is ready to rejoin the talks, it has not yet offered a date for a resumption, named a negotiating team or indicated that it is willing to pick up where the negotiations left off in June, according to the U.S. official.

In discussions with representatives from the remaining parties to the deal—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union—the official said all of them had agreed on the importance of resuming the talks as soon as possible.

If the talks don't resume, the official said the U.S. would at some point determine that Iran was no longer interested in the benefits that the accord offered or that its recent technological advances could not be undone by the limits it imposed.

The U.N.'s atomic watchdog has said Iran is increasingly in violation of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, which former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018. The U.S. has participated indirectly in the Vienna talks, which were aimed at bringing both Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the deal.

The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, met Tuesday with Iran's new foreign minister, who reiterated Tehran's "willingness to resume negotiations at an early date," the EU said. Borrell met Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Borrell stressed "the need for full cooperation" from Iran and reiterated his concern about the overall trajectory of the Iranian nuclear program," the EU statement said.

The last round of talks in Vienna ended in June, ahead of Iran's elections that boosted the ranks of hard-liners. There had been speculation that the remaining parties to the deal would meet on the sidelines of this week's U.N. General Assembly. But the U.S. official said Iran had declined the opportunity to meet.