The third round of indirect talks between the United States and Iran began Wednesday with a third working group meeting for the first time, a senior diplomat involved in the negotiations said.
US Special Envoy Rob Malley continues to head Washington’s delegation. Malley landed in Vienna on Tuesday night after briefing Israeli officials who were visiting the US on the status of the talks.
“The Vienna talks are underway. Sanctions lifting and nuclear working groups continued considerations of measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran in order to restore JCPOA,” Russia’s envoy to the UN atomic watchdog, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted.
Since the indirect talks began earlier this month, European mediators and diplomats from China and Russia have created three separate working groups.
The Vienna talks are under way. Sanctions lifting and nuclear working groups continued considerations of measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran in order to restore JCPOA. The third working group-on practical arrangements for implementation- met today for the first time.— Mikhail Ulyanov (@Amb_Ulyanov) April 28, 2021
Two of the groups are looking at what the US and Iran need to both do to return to the JCPOA, an acronym for the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.
The third group, most recently formed, is studying which US sanctions can be lifted and how.
“The third working group-on practical arrangements for implementation- met today for the first time,” Ulyanov said.
After the first two rounds of indirect talks, a senior US State Department official told reporters that progress had been made. But the official warned that there was still a long road ahead before a final deal was reached, blaming a large part of the problem on the Trump administration’s wide-ranging sanctions regime on Iran.
The official also questioned Iran’s seriousness in reaching a new deal. Iran has altered its stance multiple times since President Joe Biden took office. The Iranian regime has recently returned to its demand that all US sanctions be lifted before Iran returns to full compliance with the 2015 deal.
Washington has so far refused but has expressed willingness to ease “certain sanctions.”