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US Defense Chief Signals Iran ‘Inching’ Could Lead Toward Talks

WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has hinted that Iran might be nearer to an opportunity for new talks despite Tehran’s latest move away from adherence to international curbs on its nuclear activities, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Friday.
The statement came hours after Tehran told the European Union overnight that it had abandoned limits on research and development set out in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, describing it as a “third step” to scale back nuclear commitments since the United States withdrew from the agreement last year.
Speaking at a think tank in London on September 6, Esper said there might soon be room for talks over Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
“It seems in some ways that Iran is inching toward that place where we could have talks and hopefully it’ll play out that way,” Esper said at the Royal United Services Institute, according to Reuters.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif informed the bloc of Iran’s resumption of research in a September 6 letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who has sought to salvage the nuclear deal on behalf of its European signatories.
Experts describe the limits on R&D as one of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA)’s main principles.
“Due to the impacts of America’s exit from the JCPOA and the European countries’ failure to fulfill their commitments under the JCPOA and the communiqués of the joint commission, the Islamic Republic of Iran will suspend all of its JCPOA commitments with regards to nuclear research and development,” Iran’s Press TV quoted the letter as saying, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Iranian media say the country’s Atomic Energy Organization will detail Tehran’s next step at a press conference on September 7.
On September 5, France urged Iran to “refrain from any concrete action that is not in line with its commitments and that may hinder deescalation efforts.”
Britain’s Foreign Office called Tehran’s plan to suspend limits on its nuclear research and development “deeply concerning.”
Under the JCPOA with world powers — including China, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia — Iran is allowed to operate restricted quantities of first-generation centrifuges.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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