The United States said Tuesday that Iran’s “maximalist demands” would not lead anywhere but noted that Washington was looking for “constructive proposals” during the first round of talks on a new nuclear deal.
“The maximalist demands are not going to get us anywhere,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a briefing.
Price was speaking as European countries, with China and Russia, mediated indirect talks between US and Iranian officials in Vienna to discuss a roadmap for returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“What is on the table in Vienna today and over the next handful of days are those initial indirect discussions about that first step,” Price said, referring to what Washington and Tehran would need to do to resume compliance with the JCPOA. “That task alone won’t be easy; it won’t be simple. These talks will not be uncomplicated. But again, we are encouraged by the fact that they are taking place because it is a necessary first step to get to that desired end state,” he added.
Asked about potential sanctions relief action by the US, the State Department official said that one of the two working groups in Vienna was studying what the US would need to do “to provide sanctions relief for sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA.” He did not elaborate.
Iran has been demanding that the US lift all sanctions before returning to the JCPOA; however, the US had said it would not act before Iran came back into compliance with the deal.
And Price reiterated the stance that the US would not act unilaterally. “Maximalist demands are not going to get us anywhere. Calls for the United States to take unilateral gestures or conciliatory overtures that are unmatched by the Iranians, we don’t think that is constructive,” Price said.
It also appears that the talks will continue throughout the week. Price said US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley would stay in Vienna “for the better part of this week” and said the US diplomat did not have a return ticket booked yet. “His schedule remains flexible,” Price said.