Iran on Sunday rejected an invitation from both the United States and the European Union (EU) to discuss the 2015 nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as it is officially called. Tehran’s statement that the United States must first return to the agreement and lift all sanctions is a major loss for the Biden administration. 

“Considering the recent actions and statements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting with these countries, which was proposed by the EU foreign policy chief,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Tehran’s ISNA state-run news media.

“Iran will not respond to “gestures” and will not be intimidated by criticism from the U.S. and Europe,” he added but said that Tehran would still continue to collaborate with European Union chief diplomat Josep Borrell, as well as France, Germany, the U.K., China, and Russia, the other signatories of JCPOA.

The White House said that while they were disappointed with Iran’s refusal to meet, they remain hopeful that all of the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will soon meet. 

“While we are disappointed at Iran’s response, we remain ready to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments,” a senior Biden administration official said to NBC News.

 “We will be consulting with our P5+1 partners on the best way forward,” the official added referring to JCPOA signatories.

The JCPOA was agreed to in 2015 under former President Barack Obama. It limited Iran’s nuclear program and its desire to build nuclear weapons for several years.

The Iranians have always denied that they seek nuclear weapons. However, the Israeli Mossad conducted a large operation through which they somehow acquired 110,000 documents of the Iranian nuclear ambitions that painted a very different picture.

Then in 2018, former President Donald Trump walked away from the nuclear deal, calling it “the worst deal ever,” and put crippling economic sanctions on Tehran as part of his policy of “maximum pressure” on the Iranian regime. 

President Biden, during his campaign, said that his plan was to get the United States to re-engage talks to revive the JCPOA. The administration says it won’t ease the economic sanctions until the Iranians come back into compliance with the deal. CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked President Biden if the U.S. would lift the sanctions in an effort to get Tehran back to the negotiating table. “No,” was the president’s reply.  

So, we are currently at an impasse with neither side wanting to make the first move.

Republican Senators sent a letter to President Biden advising him not to return to the JCPOA stating that it is riddled with problems and its timetables are unrealistic.

“The scope of any agreement with Iran must address the full range of Iranian conduct, including regional terrorism, ballistic missiles, and the detention of U.S. nationals. It comes as no surprise that Iran’s proxies support Assad’s ongoing atrocities in Syria, attack our troops and diplomats in Iraq, have driven Lebanon to the brink of collapse, threaten our Israeli and Gulf partners, and contribute to the world’s largest humanitarian disaster in Yemen,” the letter stated.

Iran is trying to coerce the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors not to endorse an American push criticizing Tehran’s decision to scale back its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

“If the IAEA’s Board of Governors adopts a resolution against Iran, we will show an appropriate reaction,” Ali Akbar Salehi said, to the Iranian state news agency, IRNA. The Iranians have already halted the agreement with IAEA that allows snap inspections at their nuclear facilities.