Department Press Briefing – October 26, 2021 (Excerpts)

October 26, 2021

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


QUESTION: On Iran. The process of refueling gas stations in Iran was disrupted by what the government says is a cyber attack. Was the U.S. in any way associated with this attack, or were they aware this attack was going to take place? And if so, is this any sort of warning about returning to the talks in Vienna?

MR PRICE: What I will say on returning to the talks in Vienna is that we’ve been very clear that the path for diplomacy remains open. We continue to believe, our partners in the P5+1 continue to believe, that diplomacy constitutes the most effective means to once again ensure that Iran is verifiably and permanently prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But I don’t have any response to the first part of your question.


QUESTION: Just a follow-up to what Mr. Malley said. He said that – basically he was saying the window was closing. What does that mean? I mean, will there come a point maybe next week, the week after, the Iranians are not on board, that you say, “Okay, no more, no deal”?

MR PRICE: Well, look, we have been very clear – and I had an opportunity to reiterate this in the briefing earlier today – that we continue to believe the window for diplomacy remains open. But that is not a window that will be open indefinitely, and it won’t – it cannot be open indefinitely because as Iran continues to advance its nuclear program, as it has distanced itself from the commitments it made in the JCPOA context, eventually the advantages that the JCPOA in the – in its original form in 2015 and implemented in 2016 will be negated by the advances that Iran will have made in its nuclear program.

So that is why we continue to believe that negotiations, indirect even as they are, need to resume in Vienna as soon as possible. This is not just the position of the United States. This is the position of the full P5+1. We have heard this in public, we have heard this in private from our Russian counterparts, from the PRC, from the Germans, the Brits, and the French as well and the EU, of course, which is playing a coordinating role in much of this.

So we continue to believe that a return to Vienna as soon as possible, again, affords the best chance of securing a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, which we still think remains possible, and we still think remains the most effective means to ensure that Iran is permanently and verifiably prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: But you’re not putting on an expire date or a set date that they have to return by such-and-such date or it’s off the table?

MR PRICE: I’m not in a position to offer that from the podium.



QUESTION: How long are you going to wait?

MR PRICE: Again, we think that the window is closing. Every day that goes by is another day that Iran is in a position to advance its nuclear program in ways that are concerning. These are not just concerns on the part of the United States. We have heard similar concerns from our partner at the IAEA; we have heard similar concerns from our European allies as well. So we’re not putting a specific timeframe on it, but we are making the point that this is not a process that can go on indefinitely. The window has been open for months now, but it has also been months since the Iranian Government withdrew from the sixth round of talks and has – for reasons that you’ll have to ask them about, they have not been willing to resume a seventh round. We think the seventh round in Vienna should resume immediately if we are going to make swift progress towards a mutual return to compliance.