U.S. State Department spokeperson Jake Sullivan

U.S. expects 'difficult' Iran talks, sees no quick breakthrough

Tehran says only complete removal of all sanctions could jumpstart negotiations with the U.S., while Washington sources say the administration will take a pragmatic approach and not let the argument over who goes first to be an obstacle

Reuters |
Published: 04.06.21 , 08:46
The United States expects indirect talks with Iran that begin on Tuesday about both sides resuming compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to be "difficult" and does not foresee any early breakthrough.
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  • "We don't underestimate the scale of the challenges ahead," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday.
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    ג'ייק סאליבן
    ג'ייק סאליבן
    U.S. State Department spokeperson Jake Sullivan
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "These are early days. We don't anticipate an early or immediate breakthrough as these discussions, we fully expect, will be difficult," he told reporters.
    U.S. and Iranian officials are scheduled to begin indirect talks in Vienna - with European officials expected to act as intermediaries - to try to revive the 2015 pact under which economic sanctions on Iran were eased in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program to make it harder to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies seeking to develop atomic bombs.
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    פדריקה מוגריני מוחמד ג'וואד זריף שיחות הסכם גרעין עם איראן
    פדריקה מוגריני מוחמד ג'וואד זריף שיחות הסכם גרעין עם איראן
    Federica Mogherini Former EU Foreign Affairs representative and Iranian foreign Minister Javad Zarif in 2018
    (Photo: AP)
    Iran has ruled out face-to-face bilateral discussions and Price told reporters at his daily briefing that Washington did not expect any "at present" but was open to the possibility.
    U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations, will lead the U.S. delegation in Vienna, where the pact was originally reached in 2015.
    The agreement, formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was struck by Iran and six major powers: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
    U.S. President Joe Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimpose U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran, after waiting more than a year, to violate some of the pact's nuclear restrictions in retaliation.
    The Trump administration believed the sanctions pressure it applied would force Iran to consent to a new, more restrictive agreement that would also limit Iran's development of ballistic missiles and its support for Shi'ite proxies in the Middle East.
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    U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley
    U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley
    U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley
    (Photo: AFP)
    The Biden administration has maintained the sanctions on Iran it inherited from the Trump administration, saying it wants both sides to resume complying with the JCPOA but that this requires negotiations.
    "Our goal at these talks ... is to set the stage for that mutual return to compliance," Price said.
    Iran has laid down a tough line in advance, with its Foreign Ministry saying on Saturday that it wants the United States to lift all sanctions and rejects any "step-by-step" easing of restrictions.
    "Robert Malley will have to leave Vienna empty-handed if the Tuesday meeting would result in anything other than the removal of all U.S. sanctions," a source close to Iran's negotiating team told Iran's English-language Press TV on Monday.
    While the two sides had appeared at odds over who should take the first step to resume compliance, a U.S. official told Reuters recently that Washington would be "pragmatic" and not let the matter of who goes first to be an obstacle.

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