Iranian negotiators, under the leadership of Mr. Raisi, the new president, who has criticized his predecessor Hassan Rouhani for being too soft, made an important concession to get things off the ground by agreeing to work on the basis of a draft agreement developed with Mr. Rouhani’s team, two – said people familiar with the negotiations.
Under this agreement, the US will lift all sanctions related to the nuclear deal (while maintaining sanctions on human rights and other issues), and Iran will return to its technical obligations regarding its nuclear program under the old treaty. But critical stumbling blocks remain, such as what sanctions will be lifted and when, and in exchange for what specific actions by Iran, with a yet-to-be-determined timetable that will determine the sequence of steps.
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Washington’s view was more cautious than Tehran’s. Two senior State Department officials noted some modest progress in the talks, which has widened slightly since the June pause in talks. But both officials stressed, without going into detail, that the main points have yet to be decided. Meanwhile, the State Department’s patience is running out.
“I’m not going to put a time limit on it or list the number of meters left on the runway other than to say, ‘Yes, it’s getting very, very, very short,'” Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken told reporters late last year. .
While the United States can still offer Iran additional sanctions relief, officials in Tehran have failed to convince Western negotiators that they are serious about returning to full compliance with the 2015 deal, according to Mr Vaez of the International Crisis Group.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian indicated that Iran may have softened its initial demand for the lifting of all sanctions imposed after Mr. Trump withdrew from the agreement, including those related to human rights.
But in an interview last week with Al Jazeera, Mr. Amir Abdollahian said that at this stage in Vienna, Iran is seeking “the lifting of sanctions” related only to the original nuclear deal and looks forward to a full lifting of sanctions sometime in the future.