Washington, DC —
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday he could not confirm reports that Iran was slowing its pace in stockpiling enriched uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels. However, he said he would welcome any steps taken by Iran to reduce its “growing nuclear threat.”
Blinken also told reporters that Iran’s move of transferring detained US citizens to house arrest was not related to other aspects of US policy towards Iran, which he said reflected a strategy of deterrence, pressure and diplomacy.
On Thursday, multiple sources said Iran could free five US citizens it was holding as part of a deal to disburse $6 billion in Iranian funds in South Korea. Iran allowed four detained US citizens to move to house arrest from prison. The fifth detainee is already under house arrest.
The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported Iran had significantly slowed the pace by which it was accumulating nearly weapons-grade enriched uranium and liquefying some of its stockpile. The move could help defuse tensions with the US and revive broader talks over Iran’s nuclear program.
“Naturally, we would welcome any step taken by Iran to actually de-escalate the growing nuclear threat since the United States left the Iran nuclear deal,” Blinken told a news conference, alluding to former US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord. it’s 2018.
According to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six other major powers, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program to make it more difficult for it to manufacture atomic weapons – an ambition it denies – in exchange for sanctions relief from the US, European Union and United Nations. (lt/hr)