The US and Iran held indirect talks in Vienna on Tuesday (April 6) aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which the Trump administration abandoned in May 2018.
“We do see this as a constructive and certainly welcome step,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington. “It is a potentially useful step as we seek to determine what it is that the Iranians are prepared to do to return to compliance with the stringent limitations under the 2015 deal and, as a result, what we might need to do to return to compliance ourselves,” he added.
Iran’s Press TV quoted Iran’s negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, as echoing US statements in saying the talks were “constructive”. But Araghch insisted the sanctions imposed by Trump and still enforced by President Joe Biden must be lifted before Iran makes any concessions.
“Lifting US sanctions is the first and the most necessary action for reviving the deal,” he said. “Iran is fully ready to reverse its activities and return to complete implementation of the deal immediately after it is verified sanctions are lifted.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday that initial talks with the U.S. and world powers in Vienna to rescue the deal were a “success” that opened a “new chapter” to save the agreement, according to a statement via his official website.
Under the 2015 deal Iran would stop some nuclear work in return for an end to harsh penalties, or sanctions, hurting its economy. Tehran re-started banned nuclear work after Trump pulled out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran. Even though the new US President Joe Biden-who was vice president under Barack Obama when the original deal was negotiated – wants to rejoin, both sides say the other must make the first move.
The JCPOA Joint Commission is expected to meet again Friday, and in the meantime, Enrique Mora, the European Union official who chaired the talks, said he would be reaching out individually to all sides.
“As coordinator I will intensively separate contacts here in Vienna with all relevant parties, including U.S.,” he tweeted.
With reporting by AP, BBC, Al Jazeera and agencies