That Iran nuclear deal is “not our focus right now,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday, noting that the government is instead focused on supporting the protesters Iran as efforts to restore the nuclear deal have hit another dead end.
“The Iranians have made it very clear that this is not a deal they were ready for, and a deal certainly does not appear imminent,” Price said at a department briefing.
“Iran’s demands are unrealistic. They go well beyond the scope of the JCPOA,” he said, using the acronym for the deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“Nothing we’ve heard in the past few weeks suggests they’ve changed their position,” Price added.
The spokesman said the government’s current focus is “on the remarkable bravery and courage displayed by the Iranian people through their peaceful demonstrations and in exercising their universal right to freedom of assembly and expression.”
“And our focus right now is to bring the spotlight to what they do and support them in the best way we can,” Price said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the end of September that he saw “no prospects in the very short term” of bringing about a return to the nuclear deal with Iran.
In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Blinken said that “Iran has continued to try to include irrelevant issues in the negotiations that we just won’t say yes to.”
“We will not accept a bad deal, the response they gave to the latest proposals from our European partners was a very significant step backwards,” he said.
A senior State Department official said at the time that “we hit a wall” over Tehran’s “unreasonable” demands.
Speaking to reporters during the UN General Assembly, the official said the UN nuclear regulatory agency’s investigation into unexplained traces of uranium found at unknown Iranian sites remains the main sticking point.
“While Iran stands against its people in the streets, it also stands in the way of the kind of economic relief that a nuclear deal would offer. So I think they need to explain to their own people why they would choose that topic on the sidelines of the deal and at that point jeopardize the possibility of the deal,” the official said in late September.
Amid the standstill at the JCPOA, the Biden administration has unveiled a series of measures aimed at punishing the regime for its repression of the Iranian people and trying to support the protesters.
In late September, the US announced sanctions against Iran’s vice squad after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in their custody.
In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on the Vice Police “for abuse and violence against Iranian women and violating the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters.”
Shortly thereafter, amid the Iranian government’s internet shutdowns amid widespread protests over Amini’s death, the US government took a step designed to allow tech firms to give the people of Iran access to information online.
Last week, the US imposed additional sanctions on seven senior Iranian officials over government shutdowns of internet access and violence against protesters, targeting Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees all law enforcement agencies deployed to quell protests. as well as his Minister of Communications.