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U.S. Official Signals Iran Frustrations, Worries About Tehran's 'Plan B'

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

A senior U.S. official has expressed growing impatience at a lack of Iranian movement toward talks on reviving a moribund nuclear agreement with world powers and cited fears of a "Plan B" that keeps Tehran on a dangerous atomic path.

But the unnamed official also said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had not attached any date to when U.S. patience might run out on the negotiations, which include EU officials and other signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

Negotiations in Vienna since U.S. President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January pledging to revive the JCPOA have seemingly stalled, in part due to an Iranian election that installed hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi.

"For now there is no positive indication that Iran is prepared to come back to talks," the official was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity, noting that Tehran had not yet named a new negotiator for the meetings.

The source added that the United States is "not in the business of putting down hard deadlines."

Biden told the UN General Assembly this week, "We're prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same."

"The 'Plan B' we are concerned about is the one Iran may be contemplating where they want to continue their nuclear program," the unnamed U.S. official said.

The United States and other Western governments and intelligence agencies have accused Tehran of trying to build a nuclear bomb-making capacity, a charge Iranian officials have consistently rejected.

The 2015 JCPOA de-escalated friction between Tehran and Washington, but Iran has staggered and regional tensions have soared since Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal three years ago and reimposed crippling sanctions.

With reporting by Reuters
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