A US State Department spokesperson said Monday that Washington was neither "optimistic, not pessimistic," but simply "clear-eyed" about a new round of talks with Iran about returning to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
As Iran prepares to return to Vienna, Austria, for a seventh round of talks with the US on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal that lowered economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the US is posturing in favor of a more stringent deal than that agreed to in 2015.
The talks will be the first since Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a political conservative, took office in August. He said on Monday that the nuclear talks should be "result-oriented" and must have tangible results for Iran, such as the lifting of US sanctions that have strangled the country's economy and amplified the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic there.
The US pulled out of the deal in 2018, with then-US President Donald Trump claiming Iran was secretly violating the deal and reimposing sanctions, although the deal's other parties were unconvinced by US claims. Nonetheless, Iran began reducing its own commitments to the deal, producing more refined uranium in higher purities, in an effort to convince Washington to return to the deal.
Earlier, officials from the European Union, a party to the 2015 nuclear deal, downplayed the possibility of a meeting with Iran about the nuclear deal outside of the Vienna framework.
"We made it clear to the Iranians that time is not on their side and it's better to go back to the negotiating table quickly," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Monday.
Similarly, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that "the destination we seek is in Vienna, not an intermediate step in Brussels."