The latest round of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal wrapped up in Vienna on Wednesday, and the next round is expected to start next week, on June 10th.
Entering the fifth round of talks last week, Iran and other participants were optimistic that an agreement would be reached, but that was not the case. After Wednesday’s talks wrapped up, EU officials coordinating the negotiations insisted that a deal could be sealed in the next round.
“I am sure that the next round will be the one in which we will finally get a deal,” said Enrique Mora, the chief coordinator of the talks for the EU. But other participants in the talks took a much more cautious approach.
The European JCPOA participants released a statement on the talks that signaled there could still be a long way to go. “We have continued to make progress and important parts of a future deal have now been fleshed out, but the most difficult decisions lie ahead. We have of course worked based on the principle of nothing is agreed to [until] all is agreed,” diplomats from France, Germany, and the UK said in a joint statement.
In comments quoted by Reuters, an anonymous US official also signaled that an agreement was not expected to be reached soon. “Some progress has been made, and we are neither dragging our feet nor speeding things up,” the official said.
Throughout the negotiations, the US has blamed the slow progress on Iran. But the fact is, President Biden refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions, greatly complicating the process. The two sides have to negotiate what the US is willing to lift and what would be acceptable relief for Tehran.
Iran’s presidential elections will be held this month, and President Hassan Rouhani will step down in August. He is expected to be replaced by a more hardline candidate who might not be as patient with the US. It’s possible the Biden administration could be kicking the can down the road until Rouhani is replaced, which could give the US an excuse not to revive the deal that they could try to blame on Iran.