The fifth round of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal are ongoing in Vienna. When they started last week, Iran and other parties were optimistic that this round would be the last and that an agreement would be reached soon. But on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry said while “significant progress” has been made, “key issues” still remain.
“Each round of talks in Vienna could have been the final round. We should not rush. We have made significant progress but key issues remain,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.
In Vienna, Iran’s negotiator said he wasn’t sure if this round of talks would be the last. “I am personally not sure that we will reach a conclusion in this round. However, we will continue our efforts. Delegations may need to go back to their countries once more for more consultations. No final decision has been reached yet,” Abbas Araqchi said, according to Iran’s Press TV.
Araqchi said the US and Iran are now dealing with their “main points of difference.” It’s not clear exactly what is being negotiated currently, but the US has complicated the talks by refusing to lift all Trump-era sanctions on Iran. So the two sides have to negotiate what sanctions will be lifted and what it will take for Iran to reduce its nuclear activity, back to the limits originally set by the JCPOA.
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the two sides had agreed on most “major” issues and that only minor differences need to be worked out. But when asked about Rouhani’s comments, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken threw cold water on the idea that an agreement would be reached soon, and blamed the slow progress on Iran.