VIENNA – The joint commission of the Iran nuclear deal started a meeting on Tuesday to save the agreement signed in 2015 to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
For the first time since withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, the deal’s formal name) in 2018, the United States sent a delegation to the Austrian capital, although there will be no direct negotiations with the Iranian representatives after Tehran refused to meet with the US delegates.
Washington’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, will be staying at his Vienna hotel close to where delegations from Iran, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are meeting.
Any discussions between Iran and the US will likely have to be carried through intermediaries moving between the two hotels.
Since former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Iran has restarted its uranium enrichment program and limited the International Atomic Energy Agency access to its nuclear facilities.
The pact limits Iran’s nuclear programs in exchange for lifting sanctions and other commercial benefits, advantages that were marred by the US withdrawal and the subsequent punitive measures imposed on Tehran by Washington.
US President Joe Biden wants to return to the deal, but he demands Iran first complies with the JCPOA, while Tehran has insisted that the sanctions be lifted before it fulfills any of its commitments under the nuclear agreement.
The Vienna meeting, which Western diplomats say could last for days, hopes to establish a mechanism that would allow both countries to return to the agreement.