- The United States is prepared to lift sanctions on Iran “inconsistent” with the 2015 nuclear deal.
- The State Department did not offer details on which sanctions can be lifted.
- The United States and Iran are involved in indirect negotiations in Vienna as part of an effort to reactivate the agreement.
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The State Department said on Wednesday that the United States is willing to lift sanctions on Iran that are “inconsistent” with the 2015 nuclear deal.
“We are prepared to take the necessary steps to return to compliance with the JCPOA, including lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA. I am not in a position to give you a chapter and a verse about what this could be,” State spokesman Ned Price told reporters, by Reuters. Prince was using the acronym for the formal name of the 2015 pact – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The White House made no comment and postponed the matter to the State Department when contacted by Insider.
Price’s comments came as US and Iranian officials participated in indirect negotiations in Vienna – communicating through European intermediaries – as part of an effort to revive the nuclear pact.
In Vienna, the United States and Iran agreed to establish working groups with the aim of getting both parties back to comply with the agreement in a synchronized manner. This agreement was seen by experts as a sign of progress in terms of restoring the business, albeit incremental.
“This is an important positive step, but it will not be easy to return to JCPOA,” said Ilan Goldenberg, Middle East Security Director at the Center for New American Security in Washington, DC, on the news. via Twitter. “It will take time and difficult negotiations and it would be better if the United States and Iran could talk directly. But still. Important progress.”
“Good news,” Matt Duss, foreign policy consultant to Senator Bernie Sanders, tweeted in response to development.
The 2015 nuclear deal was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for easing economic sanctions. Critics of the deal said it did not go far enough to prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear power, and also said the pact was weak in terms of addressing Iran’s regional behavior and the missile program.
Then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, re-imposing sanctions on Iran and triggering a series of events that raised tensions between Washington and Tehran to historic levels – raising fears of a new war in the Middle East. The Trump administration tried unsuccessfully to pressure Iran to negotiate a stricter version of the 2015 agreement through tough economic sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
Before Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran’s flight time for a nuclear weapon was about a year, but American officials now say it is close to a few months. Iran remained in compliance with the pact for almost a year after the U.S. withdrew, but gradually withdrew from the agreement before completely abandoning it after Trump ordered a drone attack that killed the country’s general, Qassem Soleimani, in January 2020.
President Joe Biden in the election campaign promised to revive the deal. But Iran said it would not return to compliance until the United States lifted sanctions. Meanwhile, the Biden government has insisted that Iran prove that it is fulfilling the pact before the United States moves forward with easing sanctions. The Vienna negotiations are the first substantive effort in the Biden era to break the impasse.