On Wednesday, Iran said the US has agreed to lift Trump-era sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping sectors as part of the negotiations to revive the nuclear deal that have been ongoing in Vienna. But later in the day, the US rebuked the claim and said, “nothing is agreed.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, made the comments about the agreement on sanctions. “An agreement has been reached to remove all insurance, oil and shipping sanctions that were imposed by Trump,” Vaezi told reporters.
“About 1,040 Trump-era sanctions will be lifted under the agreement. It was also agreed to lift some sanctions on individuals and members of the supreme leader’s inner circle,” he said. The Trump administration imposed somewhere around 1,500 sanctions on Iran.
A US State Department spokesman speaking to Reuters downplayed the idea that significant progress had been made. “During negotiations of this complexity, negotiators try to draft text that capture the main issues, but again, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” the spokesman said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Other Western parties to the talks also had more negative things to say about the progress than Iran. Franck Riester, France’s junior foreign minister, told French Parliament that time was running out for the negotiations. “Difficult decisions will need to be made in the coming days or weeks if these negotiations were not to move forward,” he said.
The sixth round of indirect negotiations wrapped up in Vienna on Sunday, and the talks are now on pause. The process has been dragged out due to President Biden’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions. The fact that Iran is willing to negotiate limited sanctions relief is a major concession, one that Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi might not be willing to make.
Raisi is set to take office in August. If the US kicks the can down the road and doesn’t reach a deal by then, there is little hope the JCPOA will be salvaged. The US would almost certainly blame the failure on Raisi, who is viewed as a hardliner, although he favors a JCPOA revival if the US returns to its commitments.