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US Cool to Iranian Idea of Synchronized Steps on Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attends a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu (not seen) in Istanbul, Jan. 29, 2021.

The United States reacted coolly on Tuesday to an Iranian suggestion that Washington and Tehran take synchronized steps to return to the Iran nuclear deal, saying the U.S. was some ways from talking to the Iranians or entertaining their proposals.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday had said one way to bridge the impasse with Washington was for an EU official to choreograph their steps to restore the 2015 pact abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump.

It was the first time Zarif had hinted Iran might relent in its demand that the United States ease its economic sanctions before Tehran would resume compliance.

"We haven't ... had any discussions with the Iranians, and I wouldn’t expect we would until those initial steps go forward," State Department spokesman Ned Price said, referring to the Biden administration's consultations with allies, partners and the U.S. Congress.

"There are [many] steps in that process ... before we're reaching the point where we are going to engage directly with the Iranians and willing to entertain any sort of proposal," he added.

Under the 2015 accord struck by Iran and six major powers, Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program to make it harder for it to develop nuclear weapons in return for relief from U.S. and other economic sanctions. After abandoning the deal, Trump reimposed prior U.S. sanctions and placed new ones on Iran.