LONDON: The US said on Thursday that some progress has been made in negotiations on reviving the Iranian nuclear agreement in Vienna.
World powers have been meeting in the Austrian capital over the last two weeks in a bid to get Tehran to return to compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear accord.
“We are now in the third round of what promises to be a multi-round exercise and it continues to be a venue where we have been able to engage indirectly with the Iranian delegation in largely thoughtful, businesslike, instructive dialogue, but there’s still a great distance to travel,” said State Department Spokesman Ned Price.
“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 Iranian’s have a better sense of what they would need to do to resume their compliance with the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the official name of the agreement.
Price added that any return to the 2015 deal would require sanctions relief, but they are considering removing only those sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA.
“Even if we rejoin the JCPOA — which remains a hypothetical — we would retain and continue to implement sanctions on Iran for activities not covered by the JCPOA, including Iran’s missile proliferation, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses.”
Former President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, and Price said “Iran’s nuclear program has been galloping ahead since.”
But, he said, “big challenges remain and it is fair to say that we are not on the cusp of any breakthrough, and there is a long road ahead of us.”
Price said a senior inter-agency delegation will be traveling over the coming week for discussions on a number of important matters related to US national security and ongoing efforts to deescalate tensions in the Middle East.
He also said US envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking is in Saudi Arabia, and will also travel to Oman, to meet with senior government officials to discuss efforts in promoting a cease-fire in Yemen and the unimpeded access to humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Iran welcomed recent statements made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a televised interview.
“With constructive views and dialogue-oriented approach, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as two important countries in the region and the Islamic world, can enter a new chapter of interaction and cooperation to achieve peace, stability and regional development. by overcoming differences,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
The crown prince said on Tuesday that the Kingdom and Iran are neighboring countries and Riyadh wants a good relationship with Tehran.
(With Reuters and AP)