TEHRAN – Washington has to lift those sanctions that are inconsistent with the 2015 nuclear deal if Iran is prepared to reverse its retaliatory measures in reducing its commitments to the deal, Robert Malley, President Biden’s special envoy for Iran, has said.
Malley’s remarks came after the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, which is led by the European Union foreign policy chief, held a virtual meeting on Friday in which the participants agreed to meet on Tuesday in Vienna with the participation of the U.S. but there will be no direct talks between Iran and the U.S.
“It’s been many years since the United States has had that kind of engagement with Iran. It’s going to be indirect. But we have seen the product of several years in which the Trump administration had tried to impose maximum pressure on Iran, withdrawing from the deal, trying to get Iran to surrender,” Malley said in an interview with PBS’ Judy Woodruff.
Malley added, “Our goal is to see whether we could agree on a roadmap back to compliance for both sides.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price called the resumption of negotiations, scheduled for Tuesday in Vienna, “a healthy step forward.” But Price added, “These remain early days, and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead.”
“This is a first step,” Malley tweeted. He said diplomats were now “on the right path.”
Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in May 2018 and imposed the harshest sanctions in history against Iran under his “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran. Iran waited for a year but in May 2019 said its strategic patience is over and started to gradually remove ban on its nuclear program in accordance to paragraph 36 of the JCPOA.
Price said next week’s talks will be structured around working groups that the European Union was forming with the remaining participants in the accord, including Iran.
In a tweet on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the aim of the Vienna session would be to “rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures.”
Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s nuclear negotiator at the virtual meeting, said during Friday’s discussions that any “return by the U.S. to the nuclear deal does not require any negotiation and the path is quite clear.”
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