As time runs low at Iran nuke talks, White House focuses blame on ‘reckless’ Trump

The Biden administration is bracing for Iran nuclear deal talks to end by stepping up criticism of former President Donald Trump and blaming him for the current situation.

In recent days, State Department spokesman Ned Price and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki have attacked Trump for withdrawing the United States from the 2015 deal – agreed by Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany – which offered sanctions to Tehran relief in return for restrictions on its nuclear program.

Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions, prompting Tehran to renege on commitments and step up enrichment activities.

The move to focus on Trump is a deliberate one as ongoing talks in Vienna aimed to bring the parties in the deal back to a conclusion, the Axios news site reported on Wednesday, citing two White House sources as saying that the Biden administration wanted to “focus fire on Trump.

On Tuesday, Price responded to a question about the Vienna talks with a comment on Trump.

“It’s worth spending a moment on how we got here,” Price said. “It is deeply regrettable that due to a reckless or perhaps reckless decision by the previous administration, this administration took office without these strict audit and oversight protocols that were in place.”

Price said the Trump administration promised a better deal “that was never done,” and instead, “Iran was able to move forward with its nuclear promise.”

On Wednesday, Psaki said that none of Iran’s “increased capabilities or aggressive actions it has taken through proxy wars around the world” would have progressed if Trump had not “recklessly withdrawn from it. the nuclear deal without thinking about what might happen next. “

Speaking at a press briefing, Psaki said that following Trump’s actions, “Iran’s nuclear program is no longer in a box, no longer has the inspection regime on it. most robust ever negotiated, no longer had strict restrictions on nuclear activity. ”

Axios said the White House was paving the way for the talks to end, when the United States either re-entered the deal or pulled out and put further pressure on Tehran.

“Both scenarios will generate political backlash, especially from Republicans, but the White House wants to keep Democrats together in part by stressing that it was Trump who started this crisis and left them with only bad options.” , said Axios.

The report says the talks are expected to be concluded in late January or early February.

On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the talks were progressing so slowly that they were unlikely to reach an agreement “within a realistic time frame”.

In this image taken from April 17, 2021, video broadcast by the State Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran, IRIB, various centrifuges line the hall damaged on April 11, 2021, at the uranium enrichment facility from Natanz, some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP, file)

Discussions taking place in Vienna “are ongoing but from our point of view they are slow, too slow,” Le Drian told the French parliament.

“There is a vital urgency on this issue because of Iran’s own actions and the trajectory of its nuclear program,” he added.

On Monday, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said efforts by “all parties” to revive his country’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers had “made progress” in the Vienna talks. .

Negotiations to save the nuclear deal resumed in late November after being suspended in June as Iran elected a new ultra-conservative government.

“There has been good progress on the four issues of lifting sanctions, nuclear issues, verification and securing guarantees” during the latest round of talks, the door told reporters on Monday. -speaking of Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh.

The United States participated only indirectly in the Vienna talks, which seek to bring Washington back into the deal and ensure that Iran once again meets its own commitments.

Le Drian had sounded more positive about the talks on Friday, when he said they were moving on a “rather positive path” while stressing the urgency to see them through quickly.

The next day, his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the two sides were close to a “good deal” because France “is behaving reasonably” after having previously played “the role of a bad cop”.

Britain, France and Germany said last month that the window to reach a deal was “weeks, not months,” because of the speed of Iran’s nuclear enrichment.

Agencies contributed to this report

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