The US Department of State indicated on Thursday that progress is being made amid the ongoing Vienna talks, but that, ultimately, further discussion is necessary before an agreement can be officially reached.
Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department, told reporters during a briefing that a long road remains ahead in talks but that a deal seems within reach among negotiators.
“We've been able to engage indirectly with the Iranian delegation in largely thoughtful business-like constructive dialogue but there is still a great distance to travel, and what we have said before about having more road ahead of us than road behind us, remains accurate,” Price said at a briefing.
“It is fair to say that some progress has been made. We have a better understanding of what we might need to do, were Iran to go back into compliance, and it is our assessment that the Iranians have a better sense of what they would need to do to resume their compliance with the JCPOA.”
However, he also underscored that "big challenges remain," and that indirects talks "are not on a cusp of a breakthrough."
Price also relayed to reporters that the current standing with Iran is a "crisis that we inherited," and that it was a result that came from both the US and Iran "distancing themselves" from the measures outlined under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Talks for both the US and Iran to resume JCPOA stipulations began in early April, although concerns that discussions would end surfaced after Iran's Natanz nuclear facility suffered setbacks to its electricity grid. At the time, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, called the attack "nuclear terrorism" and blamed the incident on Israel.
Iranian officials have remained positive over the talks, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently remarking during a meeting with activists that an understanding could be reached with Washington so long as American negotiators proceed with "honesty."
Rouhani also told cabinet members during a Wednesday meeting that the recent tape leak involving Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif came to be because the Vienna talks were "at the height of their success."