US calls for ‘imminent’ return to nuclear talks with Iran

The Biden administration has called for an “imminent” return to talks in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal, but said a resumption of the negotiations is “hinging on the Iranians”.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday that Washington is willing to continue the talks as soon as Tehran agrees to re-engage in the negotiations, stressing that the path to diplomacy is still open.

Negotiations have been on ice since June, shortly after the election of Iran’s conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

“We have made very clear that we are prepared, willing and able to return to Vienna as soon as we have a partner to negotiate with,” Price said.

The 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting international sanctions against its economy.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 as part of his maximum pressure campaign against Iran, which in response has been enriching uranium well beyond the limits set by the pact.

President Joe Biden has said he is seeking a return to the 2015 deal, negotiated by the Obama administration in which he served as vice president. But six rounds of indirect talks in the Austrian capital have failed to produce a path to restore the JCPOA.

On Thursday, Price said the Biden administration hopes to pick up the negotiations where they stopped, suggesting that Washington opposes restarting talks from scratch with the new government in Tehran.

“It is important for the parties to come back together to continue, to resume where we left off in Vienna after the sixth round, so that we can resume this seventh round on the basis of what we have accomplished to date,” he said.

Raisi’s government has adopted a stern tone towards the US, saying that any talks must result in removing all sanctions against the country.

Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran would return to the Vienna talks “very soon” however.

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