US 'Not Pessimistic' About JCPOA Vienna Talks With Iran, But Says They Cannot Go on Indefinitely
18:25 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 19:10 GMT 18.10.2021)
© AFP 2022 / LARS TERNESIn this Handout photo made available by the EU delegation in Vienna shows Diplomats of the EU, China, Russia and Iran at the start of talks at the Grand Hotel in Vienna on April 6, 2021. - The US will participate in discussions in Vienna to try to save the international agreement on Iranian nuclear power. However, they will not be at the same table as Tehran and it is the Europeans who will serve as intermediaries between the two parties, in the hope of achieving concrete results after two months of impasse.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday that Washington was not "optimistic, not pessimistic," but simply "clear-eyed" about a new round of talks with Iran about returning to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
As Iran prepares to return to Vienna, Austria, for a seventh round of talks with the US on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal that lowered economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the US is posturing in favor of a more stringent deal than that agreed to in 2015.
The talks will be the first since Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a political conservative, took office in August. He said on Monday that the nuclear talks should be "result-oriented" and must have tangible results for Iran, such as the lifting of US sanctions that have strangled the country's economy and amplified the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic there.
The US pulled out of the deal in 2018, with then-US President Donald Trump claiming Iran was secretly violating the deal and reimposing sanctions, although the deal's other parties were unconvinced by US claims. Nonetheless, Iran began reducing its own commitments to the deal, producing more refined uranium in higher purities, in an effort to convince Washington to return to the deal.
Speaking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that because of "what Iran is doing with its nuclear program ... we are getting closer and closer to a point where simply returning to compliance with the JCPOA won't recapture the benefits of the agreement.”
US and Israeli officials claim Iran seeks a nuclear weapon and have vowed to stop them from acquiring it, although Tehran has forsworn all weapons of mass destruction and the head of Israeli military intelligence recently said "they are not heading toward a bomb right now."
Earlier, officials from the European Union, a party to the 2015 nuclear deal, downplayed the possibility of a meeting with Iran about the nuclear deal outside of the Vienna framework.
"We made it clear to the Iranians that time is not on their side and it's better to go back to the negotiating table quickly," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Monday.
Similarly, Price said that "the destination we seek is in Vienna, not an intermediate step in Brussels."
Iran and the US are expected to begin their seventh round of talks in Vienna in early November.