With talks to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran reaching a critical phase, differences have emerged in the U.S. negotiating team over how tough to be with Tehran and when to walk away, according to people familiar with the negotiations, The Wall Street Journal writes.
Three members of the team have stepped back from the talks, the people familiar said, because they wanted a harder negotiating stance.
Among the issues that have divided the team are how firmly to enforce existing sanctions and whether to cut off negotiations as Iran drags them out while its nuclear program advances, the people familiar with the negotiations said.
Strains within the U.S. team have been growing since the summer over a range of issues that have been debated at the highest levels of the Biden administration, the people familiar with the negotiations said.
Some in the team urged leaving the talks in early December after a new Iranian negotiating team returned to Vienna and reversed most of the concessions the previous government made in the spring 2021, the people said.
Other tension points, the people said, included whether to get the United Nations’ atomic agency to censure Tehran last year for preventing inspectors from monitoring its nuclear work and its refusal to cooperate with a separate probe into nuclear material found in Iran. Differences also flared over how aggressively to enforce sanctions on Iran, especially with China over imports of Iranian oil.
Also debated, the people said, is at what point would it become impossible to restore a central aim of the 2015 deal—keeping Iran 12 months away from having enough nuclear fuel for an atomic weapon.