Even though the Biden administration appears to be in no hurry to give Iran sanctions relief, Iranian officials continue to speak positively of the indirect talks ongoing in Vienna that are aimed at reviving the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“We are on the right track and some progress has been made, but this does not mean that the talks in Vienna have reached the final stage,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.
“Consultations will be easier if the United States decides to move away from Trump’s failed legacy and live up to its commitments,” Khatibzadeh added, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency.
Other parties involved in the talks also had positive things to say. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said he believes both sides want to make a deal. “I think that both parties are really interested in reaching an agreement, and they have been moving from general to more focused issues, which are clearly, on one side sanction-lifting, and on the other side, nuclear implementation issues,” he said.
The EU is acting as the mediator between the US and Iran. Complicating the process, the EU decided to sanction Iranian officials last week. It marked the first time since 2013 that the EU sanctioned Iran for alleged human rights violations, causing some parties involved in the talks to question the timing of the measures.
Russia’s ambassador to Vienna, who has been participating in the talks, also said some progress had been made. “Summing up the results of two weeks of deliberations on JCPOA restoration we can note with satisfaction that the negotiations entered the drafting stage,” Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter. “Practical solutions are still far away, but we have moved from general words to agreeing on specific steps towards the goal.”
An attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility last week that was attributed to Israel caused Tehran to increase uranium enrichment to 60 percent, a move Iran is willing to quickly reverse in exchange for sanctions relief.
The Biden administration has the power to restore the JCPOA at any time by lifting all Trump-era sanctions, but US officials have indicated they are not willing to do so. Earlier this month, a US official told reporters: “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.”