Iran has rejected an early meeting with the United States and the other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, according to Iranian and Western officials. Because of “recent positions and actions of the U.S. and three European countries,” Iran “does not deem the time suitable for holding” the proposed meeting, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement Sunday.

Western officials, however, said that Iran’s private response late last week to the invitation, extended through the European Union, was more “nuanced” than an outright refusal and that it sought assurances that the talks would be limited to the nuclear deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it signed in 2015 with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
“The subtext of the answer is, ‘We’re going to talk if it’s really about the JCPOA, but if you’re going to make it a bigger issue, then we’ll have to negotiate’ ” the terms, said an official, one of several from the countries involved who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomacy.

This official and others also emphasized that the Iranian response comes in the context of a meeting Monday of the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose board of governors will receive and make public statements about a quarterly report on Iran’s lack of compliance with the nuclear deal.