US, Iran at Odds Over Guarantees and Verification for Sanctions Relief

Talks to revive the nuclear deal are still ongoing in Vienna

The US and Iran are at odds over key issues to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The eighth round of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, is still ongoing in Vienna. Iranian and Western diplomats told Reuters that the main sticking points are the scope of sanctions relief and Iran’s calls for verification methods and guarantees that the US won’t withdraw from the JCPOA again.

“Americans should give assurances that no new sanctions under any label would be imposed on Iran in future. We need guarantees that America will not abandon the deal again,” a senior Iranian official said.

The Americans insist that they cannot provide guarantees that a future US administration won’t withdraw from the JCPOA since it is not a legally-binding treaty. In earlier negotiations with the previous Iranian government, Biden wasted a chance to revive the deal by refusing to guarantee that he would not leave the JCPOA during his term in office.

Iran also wants a few weeks to verify sanctions relief before it takes steps to bring its nuclear program back within the strict limits set by the JCPOA, but the Iranian official said the US thinks it should only take a few days.

Throughout the talks, the US and its European allies have been warning that time is running out to revive the deal. A Western diplomat told Reuters that “early February is a realistic end-date for Vienna talks.” Another Western diplomat said it’s not clear if “Iran really wants a deal.”

The idea that Iran isn’t serious about reviving the deal was repeated by Western officials for weeks after the JCPOA talks first restarted at the end of November. This judgment was based on the fact that Tehran wanted more sanctions relief than Washington initially wanted to give.

This month, the US started saying that some progress is being made in Vienna. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday that “modest progress” has been made but warned it might not be enough the revive the JCPOA.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.