Washington is ready to partially lift sanctions previously imposed on Iran as a means to resume mutual compliance with the nuclear deal, a spokesman for the US State Department, Ned Price, said at a press conference Wednesday.

“We are prepared to lift sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” Price told reporters.

The spokesman noted that the United States favors a “compliance for compliance” formula and observed that there would be no unilateral gestures.

The move comes amid continuing negotiations in Vienna between the P5+1 group of countries that were the signatories of the accord back in 2015 when it was penned: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.

A path back to the full restoration of the JCPOA is looking closer following prolonged demands from Washington and Tehran, with the US urging Iran to return to its nuclear commitments, and the Islamic republic insisting that the White House make the first step by lifting its sanctions against the country.

© REUTERS / EU Delegation in Vienna
European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria April 6, 2021.

The former US president, Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal in 2018, and imposed harsh economic sanctions on Tehran, claiming that the Islamic republic had violated the accord – something that Iran denies. 

Three years later, as the ice appears to be broken and the P5+1 group gathers to discuss the restoration of the deal, with no direct talks between the Iranian and American delegations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday welcomed the negotiations as “a victory of the Iranian people”, reaffirming Tehran’s readiness to resume compliance with the JCPOA obligations.

The US State Department also hailed the ongoing Vienna negotiations as a step forward, describing the process as “constructive” and “potentially useful”. On Wednesday, Price revealed that the US has had consultations with “our European allies, with our Russian and Chinese partners”, as well as with Moscow and Beijing, in turn, having met with the Iranian delegation.

Commenting on the progress of the negotiations on Tuesday, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, described the US stance on Iran as “balanced”.

“They try to understand what is going on, heed the advice”, Ulyanov noted.