US Could Quit Iran Nuclear Deal if Talks Do Not Advance | Voice of America

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Friday that the absence of an interim agreement to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities could prompt the United States to abandon efforts to rejoin a nuclear deal. 

“This remains a serious concern,” Blinken said at a news conference in Paris. “The concern has been communicated to Iran and needs to be resolved.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said a three-month interim monitoring agreement reached on Feb. 21 expired Thursday after it was extended by one month. The agency said it is negotiating with Tehran on a second extension. 

Blinken, who is visiting Paris as part of a multi-nation European tour, acknowledged the U.S. could eventually decide not to rejoin the agreement if negotiations in Vienna continue without progress.

‘There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action),” a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and major powers to curb its uranium enrichment program in exchange for lifting sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations. 

Negotiating parties have held talks for six weeks, and a sixth round of indirect talks ended last Sunday with major issues still unresolved. 

Iran Says Nuclear Talks to be Adjourned for Consultations in Capitals 

It was unclear when formal negotiations would resume

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian underscored Blinken’s warning, saying at the Paris news conference Friday it is up to Iran to move the talks forward. 

“We’re waiting for Iranian authorities to take the final difficult decisions to allow for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal,” he said.  

Blinken meets with French President Emmanuel Macron later Friday. 

The top U.S. diplomat arrived in France from Germany, where on Thursday he and German leaders said the U.S. and Germany were partnering to counter Holocaust denial and antisemitism, an effort the secretary of state said will “ensure that current and future generations learn about the Holocaust and also learn from it.”  

Speaking at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Blinken said Holocaust denial and antisemitism go hand in hand with homophobia, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination, and have become “a rallying cry for those who seek to tear down our democracies.” 

US, Germany Launch Effort to Counter Holocaust Denial

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken says partnership will ‘ensure that current and future generations learn about the Holocaust and also learn from it’

Earlier Thursday in Berlin, the secretary of state and Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba held talks on the heels of an international conference focused on supporting Libya’s transition to a permanent, stable government.  

Wednesday’s conference, hosted by Germany and the United Nations, included officials from 17 countries and reinforced support for national elections in Libya scheduled for late December.  

Libya Conference Focuses on Elections, Security

Attendees agree on the need to support December vote and for foreign fighters to leave the country

A senior U.S. State Department official told reporters Wednesday that the elections are important “not just to legitimize a long-term, credible Libyan government,” but also to help achieve the goal of carrying out an existing call for all foreign fighters to leave the country.  

Libya has experienced political instability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi from power.  Rival governments operated in separate parts of the country for years before a cease-fire deal in October that included a demand for all foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave Libya within 90 days.     

At a news conference following Wednesday’s conference, Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush said there was progress toward the exit of the foreign fighters and that “hopefully within the coming days mercenaries from both sides are going to be withdrawn.”  

A senior U.S. State Department official told reporters that achieving that goal is an important step that now “has to be made operational.”  

Defeating Islamic State will be the focus of a conference co-hosted by Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in Rome. The top U.S. diplomat will also participate in a ministerial meeting in Italy to discuss Syria and the humanitarian needs in that country.     

Blinken is also scheduled to visit the Vatican, where Reeker said the agenda includes combating climate change and human trafficking. 

This report includes information from Reuters and AFP.