On Sunday, an Iranian official said the US’s reluctance to lift sanctions on Iran is the only obstacle to reviving the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“It is now clear that Washington’s reluctance to give up sanctions altogether is the main challenge to the progress of the talks,” the unnamed official said, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
Last week, the seventh round of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the JCPOA was held in Vienna and concluded on Friday. It was the first round of talks since Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi was elected back in June. The negotiations are paused for now but are expected to resume sometime this week.
Iran wants the US to lift all sanctions that were imposed since the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018. But the Biden administration has refused to do so and has even added new sanctions, continuing the so-called “maximum pressure campaign.”
“We believe that a deal is within reach if the US government gives up its campaign of maximum pressure and the European parties show serious flexibility and political will in the talks,” the Iranian official said.
During earlier negotiations with the previous Iranian government, the Biden administration reached a draft agreement with Iran that would lift most major sanctions, but the two sides remained far apart on key issues. A report from Responsible Statecraft revealed President Biden wasted an opportunity to move forward by refusing to guarantee that the US wouldn’t leave the JCPOA again during his term in office.
Last week, Iran submitted a new draft proposal concerning sanctions relief that likely asked for more than agreed in the previous negotiations. The US views this as a “hardline stance,” but Iranian officials have signaled flexibility to negotiate on issues in the proposal.
The US has slammed Iran for its position, accusing the Islamic Republic of not talking the talks seriously. On Saturday, a US official said Washington would not let Iran “slow walk” the negotiations.
The US is now looking at ways to ramp up the pressure on Iran and is hoping Russian and China can help, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Iranian oil sales to China have been a vital lifeline for Iran’s struggling economy, and the US wants Beijing to cut that lifeline off.