Iran pulls out of nuke talks
This may be a temporary move, or it could signal the unraveling of the interim agreement. If the latter, it would set some kind of record for an Iranian double cross.
The move came after President Obama announced some new sanctions on Iran.
Iranian negotiators abruptly ended nuclear talks with Western powers in Vienna on Friday just a day after the Obama administration announced tighter sanctions on Tehran.
Iran had threatened that new or tighter sanctions would nullify the recently reached Geneva interim deal, which is not yet in effect.
The Iranians abruptly "halted" the talks and left Vienna so that they could consult with higher-level officials about how to proceed with talks following the tighter sanctions, which were announced Thursday morning by the U.S. Treasury Department.
"The Iranian negotiators interrupted the talks with the [P5+1] for consultations in Tehran," a negotiator said on Thursday, according to Iran's state-run Fars News Agency.
"America's move is against the spirit of the Geneva deal," Iranian chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi reportedly told the Iranian press. "We are evaluating the situation and will make the appropriate response."
Iranian and Western negotiators were in the middle of talks about ways to implement the interim agreement when the sanctions were announced, according to experts.
The "wild thing about today's action [is that] Treasury officials [are] negotiating terms of [the Joint Plan of Action] w/ Iran right now in Vienna," Foundation for Defense of Democracies expert Jonathan Schanzer tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
The White House told the Washington Free Beacon early Friday that it would address the development later in the day.
The interim accord reached in Geneva created the framework for a final deal that would halt portions of Iran's contested uranium enrichment program for six months.
With final negotiations on the six-month freeze in limbo, it remains unclear when exactly Iran will begin halting its nuclear work.
The White House issued a statement defending the sanctions and told reporters to talk with the Iranians about an explanation.
If the Iranians are looking to back out of the deal, this would be the perfect opportunity. However, they may find it more practicable to continue negotiations for a while either to complete work on their project or get a good start on building more infratstucture.