The United States and Iran are still at odds on major issues, but the two governments could reach an agreement on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal in a matter of weeks if Tehran makes a political decision to achieve it, a senior US said Official told reporters on Thursday.
The day before indirect talks resumed in Vienna, the senior foreign ministry official said previous discussions had clarified each government’s decisions to return to compliance with the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is).
However, the official, who was not empowered to speak on the protocol, said the pace of negotiations needed to be accelerated in order to reach an agreement within the next few weeks before Iran holds a presidential election on June 18.
“If Iran makes the political decision that it really wants to return to the JCPOA when the JCPOA was negotiated, it can be done relatively quickly and implementation can be done relatively quickly,” the official said. “But we don’t know if Iran made that decision.”
It is possible that both sides could agree on a mutual return to the nuclear deal, he said. “Is it likely? Only time will tell, because as I said, this is ultimately a matter of a political decision that must be made in Iran.”
The official added: “We are determined to do this and we must see if Iran will be in the coming days and weeks.”
With Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s term of office coming to an end, the June elections in Iran threaten to complicate negotiations and delay a revival of the 2015 agreement.
The US official said it was unclear whether Iran was ready to drop “unrealistic demands” proposed in previous rounds of negotiations.
“We cannot get into a situation where the US will do more than the agreement mandates in terms of sanctions easing and Iran will do less. . .then as necessary to regain nuclear compliance, ”the official said.
The 2015 nuclear deal introduced a series of restrictions on Iranian nuclear work to ease US, US and EU sanctions. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, reinstated sanctions, and introduced new sanctions against Iran.
The Biden administration has said it is ready to return the United States to the deal if Iran returns to the limits of the deal on its uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told NBC News in an interview Wednesday that “there is enough hope that we can revive the deal” and that it was up to President Joe Biden to “make a decision,” the United States to return to the 2015 agreement.
Iranian officials previously reported progress in the talks, and both sides had agreed that the United States would lift sanctions against Iran’s energy and banking sectors. Iran has said the United States has withdrawn from the deal and should therefore lift all economic sanctions before Iran takes steps to return to compliance.
At the urging of Iran, the current talks in Vienna are indirect, with the United States and Iran relaying messages through the other parties that signed the 2015 treaty: the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia.
The official also said that “active” indirect discussions were ongoing about the fate of Americans detained in Iran, although the issue was being dealt with “independently” of the JCPOA negotiations.
“We are treating it as extremely urgent to bring the inmates home,” said the officer.
“We’re not saying, ‘Let’s get the nuclear deal first and then with the prisoners.’ We want to take care of the inmates immediately, ”said the officer.
A recent report in the Iranian media that an agreement had been reached on the release of four Americans currently detained in Iran was an act of “unspeakable cruelty” as it was wrong and played on the emotions of the detainees’ families, the official said .
“There is no deal. We are doing everything we can to get our citizens home, “said the official.