The State Department on Monday reaffirmed that the US wants to negotiate directly with Iran after the Iranian foreign minister suggested Tehran was open to direct talks if it was necessary to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“We are prepared to meet directly. We have consistently held the position that it would be much more productive to engage with Iran directly on both JCPOA negotiations and on other issues,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
US and Iranian diplomats have been negotiating indirectly in Vienna with the EU brokering the talks. Iran has maintained it would not engage directly with the US while crippling economic sanctions remain in place. But Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian suggested Iran was open to changing its policy.
“Iran is not currently talking with the US directly. But, if, during the negotiation process, we get to a point that reaching a good agreement with solid guarantees requires a level of talks with the US, we will not ignore that in our work schedule,” Amir-Abdollahian said Monday.
The JCPOA talks have been ongoing since the end of November, and the two sides appear to be at odds over guarantees that the US won’t leave the deal again. From Iran’s perspective, without guarantees, long-term economic planning is difficult since the next US president could tear up the agreement as Trump did.
But the JCPOA is not a treaty, so future administrations are not obliged to abide by the deal. In earlier negotiations with the previous Iranian government, Tehran was willing to settle for a guarantee that President Biden would stay in the deal during his term in office. But Biden refused to make the promise.