Iranian President Hasan Rouhani spoke positively of the indirect talks with the US that have been ongoing in Vienna aimed at reviving the JCPOA and said a deal could be reached in “little time.”
“The negotiations have achieved 60 to 70 percent progress,” Rouhani said on Tuesday. “If the Americans act honestly, we will reach a conclusion in little time.”
Diplomats representing Iran and the remaining participants of the JCPOA — China, Russia, the UK, France, and Germany — met in Vienna on Tuesday. The officials discussed the progress of two working groups that were established to figure out the steps needed to be taken by the US and Iran to revive the deal.
The EU said a third working group had been established to determine the sequence of the steps that need to be taken. The diplomats are expected to return home and convene again in Vienna next week for more talks.
While Iran is speaking positively of the talks, the US insists there is still a long way to go. “Yes, there has been some progress, but there remains a long road ahead,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday. “And I think it’s fair to say that we have more road ahead of us than we do in the rearview mirror.” Price also said that Biden’s envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, is returning from Vienna for consultations.
The US has the ability to revive the JCPOA at any time by lifting all Trump-era sanctions on Iran, but Biden officials have indicated they are not willing to do so even if Tehran returns to the limits set by the agreement.
Since the US withdrew from the agreement in 2018, an enormous number of sanctions have been slapped on Iran. Some measures were related to the country’s civilian nuclear program, while others were not. The US has said it will lift sanctions that are “inconsistent” with the JCPOA, but it’s not clear what that means.