UPDATED 9:22 AM PT – Saturday, April 3, 2021
The Biden administration and Iranian officials said they will begin negotiations with intermediaries next week to try to get both countries in compliance with an agreement that will limit Iran’s nuclear program.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the negotiations are scheduled for Tuesday in Vienna.
“It’s a positive step, especially if it moves the ball forward on that mutual return to compliance we’ve talked about for a number of weeks now,” Price stated.
However, Price said the administration does not anticipate an immediate agreement since tough discussions lie ahead.
One of the major obstacles in coming to an arrangement is Iran’s demand that the U.S. lift sanctions first, which has threatened to be a foreign policy set back for Biden.
The impending talks are coming after the European Union helped negotiate a virtual meeting of top officials from Britain, China, Russia and Iran, all countries that remained in the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
At virtual JCPOA JC meeting, Iran & EU/E3+2 agreed to resume in-person talks in Vienna next Tues.
Aim: Rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures.
No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 2, 2021
“This is just the first step. It’s going to be a difficult path because of how much time has gone by and how much mutual distrust there is,” U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said. “But our goal is to discuss indirectly with our European and other partners, who will in turn discuss with Iran to see whether we could define those steps that both sides are going to have to take if we’re serious about coming back into compliance with the deal.”
GOP lawmakers have pushed the Biden administration to increase talks to encompass other complaints against Iran. These include it’s crucial support to armed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, as well as it’s detention of American citizens. The administration pledged to push Iran on those matters, however representatives from the State Department declined to say when they will address those conflicts.