The U.S. is willing to remove sanctions on Iran in order to be in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, including the sanctions that are inconsistent with the pact made in 2015, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.
“We are prepared to take the steps necessary to return to compliance with JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], including lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with JCPOA. I am not in a position here to give you chapter and verse on what those might be,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
U.S. and Iranian officials are currently communicating through European intermediaries in Vienna as part of an effort to reaffirm the nuclear pact.
In Vienna, the U.S. and Iran agreed to create working groups with the purpose of bringing both parties back into compliance of the 2015 deal. This agreement was viewed by experts as a sign of incremental progress in terms of restoring the previous deal.
Middle East Security Director at the Center for New American Security in Washington D.C., Ilan Goldenberg, said Twitter, “This is an important positive step but it’s not going to be easy to get back into the JCPOA. It’s going to take time and tough negotiations and it would be better if the U.S. & Iran can talk directly. But still. Important progress.”
The foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, Matt Duss, also called the development “good news.”
The 2015 nuclear deal was created to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for suspended economic sanctions.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May, imposing heavy economic sanctions on Iran which caused significant tension between Washington and Tehran. The Trump administration unsuccessfully sought to pressure Iran into negotiating a more restrictive version of the JCPOA deal by imposing harsh economic sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
Before Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, it was expected that Iran would unveil their nuclear weapon within a year, but U.S. officials now believe Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in just a few months. Iran remained in compliance with the pact for roughly a year after the U.S. pulled out, but completely abandoned it after Trump ordered a drone strike that killed the country’s leading general, Qassem Soleimani, in January 2020.
During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden pledged to revive the agreement, but Iran has repeatedly asserted they will not sign new deal until the U.S. lifts their economic sanctions. However, the Biden administration has insisted Iran prove its compliance with the pact prior to the U.S. lifting the sanctions.
The talks in Vienna are the first significant effort of the Biden administration to break the stalemate.