Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, will resume this weekend, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday.
The negotiations have been ongoing in Vienna since April and are set to enter their sixth round. The process is being dragged out because the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions on Iran to rejoin the JCPOA.
“I know that the negotiation will start again over this coming weekend,” Sherman said. “I think there’s been a lot of progress made, but out of my own experience until the last detail is nailed down, and I mean nailed down, we will not know if we have an agreement.”
Iran’s presidential elections are being held on June 18th, which Sherman and other US officials say could complicate the talks. Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, is expected to be replaced by a hardliner. But even the most hardline elements in Iran favor a revival of the JCPOA if the US lifts the sanctions it imposed since 2018, so the power to restore the deal will still be in President Biden’s hands.
As the talks of been stalling, US officials have been sending bad signals to the Iranians. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “hundreds” of sanctions would still remain, including Trump-era measures, even if the US returns to the JCPOA. If that’s what the US is trying to sell to Iran, it’s no wonder the two sides have not reached an agreement.