While Washington does not anticipate holding direct talks with Tehran, State Department says US ‘remains open to them’.
The US said Friday it has agreed to participate in indirect nuclear talks starting next week with Iran in a potential major breakthrough that could end a months-long impasse.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said that for now there would not be any direct talks with Iran, and the US would instead engage in talks “with our European, Russian, and Chinese partners.”
Those talks will be focused on identifying “the issues involved in a mutual return to compliance with” the 2015 nuclear accord, Price said in a statement sent to Anadolu Agency.
President Joe Biden has long expressed an interest in resuming US participation in the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). His predecessor, Donald Trump, chose to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement in 2018, and went on to impose US sanctions on Iran lifted under the deal.
In retaliation, Tehran took steps away from the nuclear restrictions it agreed to in a bid to ramp up pressure on the deal’s remaining participants to maintain their commitments.
The Islamic republic has maintained the US should first lift its sanctions before it returns to full JCPOA compliance, a position balked out by the Biden administration, which has called on Iran to act first. That impasse is now heading into its third month.
The State Department said next week’s shuttle diplomacy in Vienna will be centered around working groups that will be formed by the EU with the other participants in the JCPOA, including Iran.
“The primary issues that will be discussed are the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to compliance with the terms of the JCPOA, and the sanctions relief steps that the United States would need to take in order to return to compliance as well,” Price said.
While the Biden administration does not presently anticipate holding any direct talks with Iran, Price said the US “remains open to them.”
He cautioned that while the negotiations, set to begin on April 6, present “a healthy step forward,” the US does not “anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead.”