After a week of indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna, a US official clarified with reporters on Friday that the Biden administration is not willing to lift all Trump-era sanctions on Iran to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
After the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, the Trump administration slapped an enormous number of sanctions on Iran. Some were related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, while others were imposed over alleged human rights abuses and claims of terrorism.
Iran’s Foreign Minister said on Twitter that Tehran expects all sanctions imposed by Trump to be removed. “All Trump sanctions were anti-JCPOA & must be removed—w/o distinction between arbitrary designations,” he wrote on Friday.
Later on Friday, a senior US State Department official told reporters Iran’s position was not acceptable to Washington. “If Iran sticks to the position that every sanction that has been imposed since 2017 has to be lifted or there will be no deal, then we are heading towards an impasse,” the official said.
The official also said the US had not seen enough seriousness from the Iranian side about returning to the JCPOA. But the fact that Iran is willing to negotiate with the US at all is a concession and a sign that the Islamic Republic is very serious about reviving the deal, which it has been trying to preserve since the US pulled out.
Although it appears the US is taking a hardline approach, others involved in the talks had positive things to say on Friday, including the Iranian side. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iran’s Press TV that the negotiations have been “constructive.”
“In my opinion, these negotiations are moving forward, very constructive and useful, but it is too early to say whether we are moving forward in a positive direction,” Araghchi said.
Two working groups set up by the talks that had been meeting since Tuesday reported their progress to Iran and the other JCPOA participants on Friday. Details of what the working groups discussed are not clear. The JCPOA commission will convene again next week.