The sixth round of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal concluded on June 20th. At this point, it’s not clear when the next round of talks will begin.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at a press conference Monday that it’s up to Iran when to start the next round. “Questions about when or whether Iran would be prepared to start a seventh round or reach an understanding on a mutual return to the JCPOA, those can only be addressed by Tehran. They can’t be routed here. We’ve made very clear that we are prepared to return to a seventh round,” he said.
Price also said that the US would not set a deadline for the talks. “We’re not imposing a deadline on these talks, but … we are conscious that as time proceeds Iran’s nuclear advances will have a bearing on our view of ultimately returning to the JCPOA,” he said. Since Iran began gradually increasing its nuclear activity in 2019, a year after the US left the JCPOA, Iranian officials have been clear that the steps are easily reversible.
The talks are being dragged out because the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions on Iran. The two sides have to negotiate what sanctions the US is willing to lift and what is acceptable relief for Tehran.
While the Biden administration is being stubborn, the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continues to be optimistic about the negotiations. Iran’s Foreign Ministry submitted a 264-page report to parliament on the JCPOA talks, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said an agreement should be reached soon.
Rouhani will be replaced by President-elect Ebrahim Raisi in August. Raisi is viewed as a hardliner, but he still favors a JCPOA revival if the US returns to its commitments under the deal by lifting sanctions on Iran.