The United States and Iran were expected to begin indirect talks Tuesday in an effort to bring the U.S. back into a 2015 nuclear deal.
The deal -- which the U.S. left in 2018 under President Donald Trump -- restricts Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing U.S. and international sanctions.
The U.S. reestablished economic sanctions after withdrawing from the agreement. Iran answered the action by violating some of the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear program.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley will lead the U.S. team during the talks, which are taking place in Vienna. The discussions will include representatives from the five world powers still in the deal -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
The goals of the talks include returning the U.S. to the deal and getting Iran in full compliance with it. The nuclear agreement is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Price said the talks will be “structured around working groups” that the European Union will form with Iran and the other parties to the deal. He said negotiators would work to identify the “nuclear steps” that Iran will need to take to become compliant. In addition, the talks will seek to define “sanctions relief steps” the U.S. will need to take to rejoin the deal.
Price said the U.S. would consider lifting sanctions reestablished by the Trump administration in return for “more permanent and verifiable limits” on Iran’s nuclear program.
President Joe Biden came into office saying one of his first goals would be to return the U.S. to the deal and get Iran to comply with it. But Iran and the U.S. have disagreed over Iran’s demand that sanctions be lifted first.
Price said Monday he sees the talks as a “healthy step forward.” But he added that the U.S. side expects the negotiations to be “difficult” and does not expect "an early or immediate breakthrough.”
In Tehran, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Iran's aim remained the lifting of all sanctions that have been placed on Iran. He added that Iran was “ready to return to all our commitments immediately after the American side lifts sanctions in a complete and verifiable” way.
EU diplomats said the talks could continue for several days to resolve some of the easier issues before restarting next week. One official told Reuters news agency the aim is to reach some form of a deal ahead of Iran’s presidential election in June.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn adapted this story for Learning English, based on stories from The Associated Press, Reuters and VOA News. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
sanction – n. a restriction, usually limiting trade, that are meant to cause a country to obey international law
comply – v. to obey an order, rule or request
relief – n. help given to people in need
verify – v. to prove that something is true, or do something to discover whether it is true
breakthrough – n. an important discovery