Talks in Vienna over a mutual return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, are ongoing. Under the Trump administration, the United States exited the deal in 2018, reimposed sanctions on Iran, and added new ones. Since then, Iran has not upheld its own commitments under the deal, leaving the JCPOA in flux.
Now both Iran and the United States have expressed a shared objective of returning to mutual compliance with the terms of the JCPOA.
Chaired by the European Union, the current discussions on how to accomplish that goal include Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, with indirect, but crucial, participation by the United States.
At a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price called the discussion “businesslike” and “positive.” He said, “There has been some progress, but there remains a long road ahead. And I think it’s fair to say that we have more road ahead of us than we do in the rearview mirror.”
The Joint Commission of the JCPOA, which oversees the talks, recently announced a third expert working group, “to start looking into the possible sequencing of respective measures” needed “for the possible return of the US to the JCPOA and its full and effective implementation.” The other two working groups are addressing sanctions lifting and Iran’s return to compliance with its nuclear commitments.
Spokesperson Price welcomed that announcement, noting that U.S. Special Envoy Robert Malley has been leading the U.S. delegation, “exploring concrete approaches concerning the steps both Iran and the United States would need to take to return to mutual compliance.”
Mr. Price made clear that as U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said recently in an interview, “The United States is not going to lift sanctions unless we have clarity and confidence that Iran will fully return to compliance with its obligations under the deal, that it will put a lid on its nuclear program, that it will expand its breakout time, that it will reduce the level of enrichment and the scope of enrichment in its country.”
Spokesperson Price declared, “Compliance for compliance. That is what the team in Vienna is focused on right now.”