US and Iran to enter indirect talks on nuclear deal compliance.

Negotiations on how to bring both the United States and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will take place among all parties in Vienna next week, but there will be no direct talks between Iran and the United States, the participants agreed in a virtual meeting Friday.

The Vienna talks will begin Tuesday. US president Joe Biden wants to return to the deal, negotiated while he was vice president in the Obama administration, which placed tough but temporary limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting US and international sanctions on Tehran.

Indirect talks in Vienna between Iran and the United States, carried out in person through intermediaries, will seek to agree on a road map on how to synchronise steps to return to their commitments, including the lifting of economic sanctions, a US official said.

The United States would not seek to retain some sanctions for leverage, the official said, arguing that the previous “maximum pressure” campaign waged against Iran by the Trump administration had failed. Once Iran and other participants in the deal, including Germany, France, Britain and the European Union as chair, work out a general road map, the official said, Iran and the United States would then ideally meet to finalise the details of choreography to get to where both say they want to be.

Former US president Donald Trump had pulled the United States out of the agreement in May 2018. He restored and then enhanced harsh economic sanctions against Iran, trying to force it to renegotiate an agreement with much tougher terms. Iran responded in part by enriching uranium significantly beyond the limits in the agreement and building more advanced centrifuges.

Biden’s team has said that once there is mutual compliance with the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Washington wants to negotiate further with Iran to extend the time limitations in the deal and to try to constrain Iran’s missile programs and military support in the Middle East for groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Shia militias, as well as for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. – New York Times

The Irish Times

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