U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday the negotiations on salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran “cannot and will not go on indefinitely,” signaling it’s up to Tehran to move forward soon on the issue.
Blinken spoke Thursday in Kuwait during a news conference alongside his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah. The top U.S. diplomat said the Biden administration is willing to continue negotiations, but that Iran needs to make a decision.
The two sides have held several rounds of indirect talks in Vienna since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January. Discussions have dealt with Iran complying with the international agreement that restricted its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The United States withdrew from the agreement officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in 2018, and since then Iran has taken multiple steps away from its commitments, including enriching uranium to a higher level of purity and holding larger stockpiles of enriched nuclear material.
“At some point the gains achieved by the JCPOA cannot be fully recovered by a return to the JCPOA if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program,” Blinken said.
The United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia sought limits on Iranian nuclear activity to address concerns that Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
In addition to issues of regional security, Blinken said Thursday that the United States and Kuwait are working together on ending the coronavirus pandemic and addressing the needs of the people in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
He praised Kuwait’s work to heal a rift among Gulf Cooperation Council member countries which saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt isolate Qatar for more than three years.
In addition to meeting with the foreign minister, Blinken had talks Thursday with Kuwait’s ruling emir, crown prince and prime minister, and visited the country’s parliament.
Blinken told reporters that those discussions included U.S. efforts to relocate Afghan translators and interpreters who have worked with the U.S. since the launch of the war in Afghanistan in 2001. With the U.S. in the process of withdrawing its forces, the State Department is processing special immigrant visas, and Blinken said while that is continuing, the U.S. is talking with other countries about temporarily hosting Afghans who are part of that program.
He said the United States is “looking forward to making good on our obligations to those who stood with us.”
Blinken also highlighted the U.S.-Kuwait partnership on trying to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling Houthi rebels who seized the country’s capital in 2014.
“It is incumbent on the Houthis to engage meaningfully and in good faith in an effort to end the war,” he said.