The United States is holding talks with Iran to sketch out steps that could limit the Iranian nuclear program, release some detained U.S. citizens and unfreeze some Iranian assets abroad, Iranian and Western officials said.
These steps would be presented as an “understanding” as opposed to an agreement that needs to be reviewed by the U.S. Congress, Reuters reported.
The U.S. government has denied allegations that it is looking for a temporary agreement, using carefully worded statements to leave open the prospect of a less formal “understanding” that may bypass congressional review.
Matt Miller, a spokesman for the State Department, denied that any agreement had been reached with Iran but added that Washington wanted Teheran to reduce tensions and scale back its nuclear programme, stop supporting regional proxies that carry out attacks, stop supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine, and free American citizens who were detained.
“We continue to use diplomatic engagements to pursue all of these goals,” he added without giving details.
An Iranian official said: “Call it whatever you want, whether a temporary deal, an interim deal, or a mutual understanding – both sides want to prevent further escalation.”
In the first instance, “that will involve prisoner exchange and unblocking part of Iran’s frozen assets”, he said.
He suggested that such actions may include increased Iranian collaboration with the U.N. nuclear inspectors and waivers of U.S. sanctions to let Iran export oil in exchange for halting 60% uranium enrichment.
Washington seeks to reinstate some restrictions on Iran after failing to resuscitate a 2015 nuclear agreement to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon that could endanger Israel and spark a regional arms race. Tehran claims that it has no plans to create a nuclear weapon.