Officials from both Washington and Tehran are scheduled to travel to Vienna next week as part of an effort to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and other global powers, although these talks will not be held directly in person.
Despite face-to-face talks being ruled out by Tehran, the presence of the U.S. and Iran in the Austrian capital marks a step forward for liberals who are trying to get all sides to be compliant with the deal.
The current aim of the trip is to reach an agreement within two months time.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to violate some of the pact’s nuclear restrictions. His successor Joe Biden wants to revive the accord, but Washington and Tehran have been at odds over who should take the first step.
“Iran and the U.S. will be in the same town, but not the same room,” a European diplomatic source said. A Western diplomat said a shuttle diplomacy approach would be adopted.
The talks will seek to create negotiating lists of sanctions that the United States could lift and nuclear obligations Iran should meet, the EU official said.
Those lists “should marry at some point. In the end, we are approaching this in a parallel way. I do think we can do it in less than two months,” the official said.
“Aim: Rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated in a post published on Twitter. “No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary.”
An official from Iran said that U.S. Iran envoy Rob Malley and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan would be in Vienna, but then went on to insist there would be no direct or indirect meetings between officials from either country. U.S. officials have, so far, not made any comments.