August 11, 2022

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US, Iran nuclear talks end in Qatar without deal: reports

Indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal ended in Qatar on Wednesday without any breakthroughs, according to Iranian reports.

The meetings in Doha were aimed at reviving indirect talks between the two sides that had stalled in Vienna to bring Washington and Tehran back to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the international accord that put strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program while relieving sanctions on the country.

Sources familiar with the talks told the Iranian Tasnim News Agency that Iranian officials raised concern that the U.S. would not deliver enough sanctions relief in return for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.

The Tasnim News Agency, while considered a private news organization, is believed to have close ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the Trump administration designated a terrorist organization in 2019.

President Biden has reportedly rejected removing the IRGC from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, considered a priority demand of the Iranians for their return to the JCPOA.

The talks in Doha marked the first forward movement since negotiations taking place in Vienna between the U.S. and Iran, with European and Russian diplomats serving as intermediaries, were paused in March.

The Doha talks also took place ahead of Biden’s planned trip to the Middle East in July, to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia, where confronting the threats from Iran’s nuclear ambitions is expected to be high on the agenda.

While Biden administration officials have argued that a return to the JCPOA marks the best chance to box in Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the president’s lead negotiator for the talks, Rob Malley, told a Senate panel in May that the administration is “fully prepared to live with and confront that reality” of moving forward without a return to the deal.

Malley further warned that Iran, which began violating the terms of the JCPOA in 2019 after the Trump administration withdrew from the deal, has advanced its nuclear fuel stockpiles and knows how to build a bomb within “a matter of weeks” if it chose to do so.

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