Above photo: Officials from the six countries still party to the nuclear deal held preparatory talks. EPA.
A US official said the Iranians have made ‘unrealistic demands’.
The fourth round of talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal kicked off in Vienna on Friday. Iran’s top negotiator said he believes the US is “serious” about returning to the agreement but that it has not yet offered adequate sanctions relief.
“The information transferred to us from the US side is that they are also serious on returning to the nuclear deal and they have so far declared their readiness to lift a great part of their sanctions,” Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi said.
“But this is not adequate from our point of view and therefore the discussions will continue until we get to all our demands,” Araqhi added.
Over in Washington, President Biden was asked if he believed the Iranian side was serious about reviving the JCPOA. “Yes, but how serious, and what they are prepared to do is a different story. But we’re still talking,” he said.
The Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions that were imposed after the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, so the two sides are currently negotiating what sanctions the US is willing to lift and what is acceptable to Iran.
The Russian delegate in Vienna said the parties agreed to “intensify” the effort to revive the deal during Friday’s talks. “The delegations seem to be ready to stay in Vienna as long as necessary to achieve the goal,” Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.
On Thursday, an unnamed US State Department official spoke with reporters and blamed Iran for the slow progress, accusing Tehran of making “unrealistic demands” for sanctions relief. But the reality is, the US is the party that broke the agreement and can revive it at any time by lifting sanctions. And the fact that Iran is willing to negotiate at all is a major concession.