US: 'There was some modest progress in the talks last week'

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US will “be watching very closely,” to determine whether Iran was sincere about re-joining the Iran Nuclear Deal.

 Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021. (photo credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021.
(photo credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – The US hopes to build on the progress that was made in the Vienna talks during this week’s indirect negotiations, Ned Price, the State Department Spokesperson, said on Tuesday. The talks resumed on January 3rd, and they are currently ongoing.

“What we can say at this point is that there was some modest progress in the talks last week; we hope to build on that this week,” Price said at the State Department press briefing. “What is clear is that if we do not soon reach an understanding on a mutual return to compliance, Iran’s accelerating nuclear steps will increasingly diminish the nonproliferation benefits of the JCPOA.”

He said that the US will “be watching very closely,” to determine “whether the Iranians are as sincere and as steadfast as we have been in seeking a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA”.

“We have made the point repeatedly that it remains in our national interest to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, because at this moment, on this day, the nonproliferation benefits that the JCPOA entails are the best outcome when it comes to what’s in our national interest,” he continued. “That will not be true for long, as Iran continues with nuclear steps that only diminish the utility of the guarantees that the 2015 deal would bring back into effect. That’s why our priority remains reaching and implementing a rapid mutual return to full compliance with the JCPOA.”'

 US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during daily press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, US, February 22, 2021 (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/POOL VIA REUTERS) US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during daily press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, US, February 22, 2021 (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/POOL VIA REUTERS)

He also addressed a question about possible sanctions relief. “What I will say is that sanctions relief and the steps that the United States would take on the – when it comes to sanctions, together with the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take if we were to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, that’s really at the heart of the negotiations that are ongoing in Vienna right now,” said Price. “They have been at the heart of these negotiations in Vienna, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed when it comes to these issues. So I wouldn’t want to get ahead of where we are.”

“But even if there has been some progress, the fundamental situation really remains,” Price added. “Iran needs to exercise restraint in its nuclear program and pursue negotiations in Vienna seriously.”