On Thursday, the US State Department said the US hopes Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi “seizes the opportunity for diplomacy” as the talks to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, have been stalled since June.
State Department spokesman Ned Price also warned that the JCPOA talks could not go on forever, something US officials have been repeating. “This process cannot go on indefinitely. The opportunity to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA won’t last forever,” Price said.
Raisi took his oath of office Thursday after being formally endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei earlier in the week. The new president is viewed as a hardliner, but has endorsed a JCPOA revival and said Tuesday that he would work to get “cruel” US sanctions lifted, signaling his willingness to continue talks with Washington.
The last round of JCPOA talks concluded on June 20th and have been on hold during Iran’s transition period. The US blames Iran for the delay, but the negotiations started in April and were initially dragged out because of the Biden administration’s refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions, forcing Tehran to negotiate limited sanctions relief.
During the negotiations, the two sides made additional requests on top of the original deal they could not agree on, according to Khamenei and a German involved in the talks who spoke with CNBC. Khamenei said the US wants to include a sentence to the deal that would obligate Iran to pursue further negotiations with the US over other issues, such as the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
“By putting this sentence, they want to provide an excuse for their further interventions on the principle of [the deal] and missile program and regional issues,” Khamenei said last week. “If Iran refuses to discuss them, they will say that you have violated the agreement and the agreement is over.”
The supreme leader said that while the US wants a guarantee for more negotiations in writing, Washington does not want to provide a written guarantee that it would not withdraw from the deal again, as it did in 2018. He said the Iranians are also asking for a verification mechanism to ensure the US provides the sanctions relief it promises, another thing the US does not want to do.