US Says New Iran Response on Nuclear Deal 'Not Constructive'

The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. (Reuters)
The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. (Reuters)
TT

US Says New Iran Response on Nuclear Deal 'Not Constructive'

The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. (Reuters)
The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. (Reuters)

The United States said Thursday that a new response from Iran on reviving a landmark nuclear deal was "not constructive," a day after European mediators were hopeful at finally crossing the finish line.

It is the latest in a back and forth between the adversaries via the European Union, which in August broke a deadlock after a year and a half of slow-moving diplomacy.

The European Union put forward on August 8 what it called a final text to restore the 2015 nuclear accord, which was trashed by former US president Donald Trump, said AFP.

Iran proposed changes to it -- largely accepted by the Europeans -- to which the United States issued a response through the mediators.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said earlier Thursday that Tehran sent another reply in response to the US position.

"We can confirm that we have received Iran's response through the EU," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said late Thursday in Washington.

"We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive."

Kanani, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, had said that Iran was taking a "constructive approach" in its diplomacy.

- Sticking points remain -

The United States has declined to discuss details publicly but disputes include Iran's insistence on the UN nuclear watchdog closing a probe of three undeclared sites suspected in nuclear work before the 2015 nuclear deal.

If President Joe Biden returns to the deal, the United States would ease sanctions in return for Iran accepting stringent restrictions on its nuclear program.

The United States would end Trump's unilateral US effort to stop other nations from buying Iranian oil.

Iran would then within months be able to sell potentially more than one million barrels more of oil a day, further easing global crude prices that soared after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Biden took office aiming to restore the accord despite heated opposition both from US ally Israel and lawmakers from Trump's Republican Party.

But Iran pressed hard in talks in Vienna, refusing even to see US envoy Rob Malley in person and forcing EU envoys to shuttle between hotels.

In a turning point, the United States said in August that Iran dropped one key stumbling block -- that Biden reverse Trump's blacklisting of the elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

The Eurasia Group consultancy, in an analysis after Washington submitted its reply, said the odds of reviving the deal this year were at 45 percent as developments have been primarily about public messaging.

"There is less here than meets the eye," it said.

Israel, however, appears to see momentum. Prime Minister Yair Lapid has stepped up calls on the West to kill the deal and spoke at length to Biden by telephone on Wednesday.

Israel says the agreement would offer dangerous new funding to its arch-enemy and has waged a shadowy campaign inside Iran to sabotage the nuclear program.

The Biden administration argues that Trump's pullout has achieved little other than speeding up Iran's nuclear work.
Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear weapon but has rolled back commitments under the 2015 accord, with US intelligence saying it would now be closer to making a nuclear bomb if it chooses to pursue one.



Harris Condemns Flag Burning, Hamas Graffiti at Protest in Washington

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the American Federation of Teachers' 88th National Convention on July 25, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images via AFP)
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the American Federation of Teachers' 88th National Convention on July 25, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images via AFP)
TT

Harris Condemns Flag Burning, Hamas Graffiti at Protest in Washington

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the American Federation of Teachers' 88th National Convention on July 25, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images via AFP)
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the American Federation of Teachers' 88th National Convention on July 25, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Getty Images via AFP)

US Vice President Kamala Harris joined Democratic and Republican leaders in condemning protesters who burned American flags and sprayed pro-Hamas graffiti outside Washington's Union Station on Wednesday, describing the acts as unpatriotic and abhorrent.

The protests coincided with a speech to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Before he spoke, protesters marched near the US Capitol building, condemning US military aid to Israel during its war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

Following Netanyahu's speech, some of the demonstrators gathered in front of Union Station. They hoisted American flags outside the iconic train station, burned American ones and spray painted the words "Hamas is coming" and "Free Gaza" on a large monument.

Harris, the Democrats' presidential candidate, said in a statement on Thursday that she condemns any individuals associating with Hamas.

"I condemn the burning of the American flag. That flag is a symbol of our highest ideals as a nation and represents the promise of America. It should never be desecrated in that way," Harris said.

Harris and Biden were due to hold separate meetings with Netanyahu later on Thursday. More protests were planned for outside the White House.

During the protest on Wednesday, before some of the protesters converged near Union Station, police used pepper spray on some of the thousands of demonstrators present and made some arrests.

The flag burning and graffiti outside Union Station drew strong criticism from Republican US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson and Hakeem Jeffries, the chamber's Democratic leader.