After earlier this week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken somewhat pessimistically portrayed that it remains “unclear” whether Iran is actually willing to restore the nuclear deal, prompting angry words from Foreign Minister Javad Zarif who again pointed out that it’s only Washington not in compliance due to Trump-era sanctions which the Biden White House refused to “bury” in order to make a renewed deal possible, Blinken’s newest statements are pouring more cold water on all the recent speculation that prematurely hailed a Vienna agreement as imminent.
During a Tuesday hearing before a US Senate committee the US top diplomat was asked about his assessment of progress at Vienna, to which he frankly replied that hundreds of sanctions targeting Iran are likely to remain in place even if Iran and the United States return to compliance. “He said he would anticipate some sanctions would remain in place, including ones imposed by the Trump administration,” according to his words in RFE/RL.
“If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain unless and until Iran’s behavior changes,” Blinken testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Lately the more enthusiastic and optimistic accounts of how things are going in Vienna have tended to come only from the Iranian side, as well as in some instances Russia. For example Iranian chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi indicated last week that this current round of talks could be “conclusive” and lead to a final agreement. Yet at the same time State Department spokesman Ned Price had said, “There are some hurdles that remain that we haven’t been able to overcome in those five rounds.” At sixth round is expected to start Thursday.