US expects seventh round of Iran nuclear talks

State Department announcement comes as Tehran continues to scale up breaches of nuclear deal

The US State Department on Wednesday indicated that it expects to engage in a seventh round of indirect talks with Iran with the goal of restoring the nuclear deal.

“Of course, nothing is certain in the world of diplomacy, but I think we have every expectation that there will be a seventh round of talks at the appropriate moment, at the right time,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at a press briefing.

“And our team looks forward to being engaged in that next round of talks when it does begin.”

The US and Iran have engaged in six rounds of slow-moving talks in Vienna since April to hammer out a road map for both sides to return to the nuclear deal, which former president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, reimposing sanctions on Tehran.

Since the US withdrawal, Iran has gradually ratcheted up its breaches of the accord.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Tuesday that Iran has taken steps to begin producing enriched uranium metal, which could be used to develop the core of a nuclear weapon.

The nuclear deal bans the development of enriched uranium metal and the announcement drew sharp condemnation from the US and the European signatories to the accord.

Additionally, Iran has not yet agreed to extend a deal with the agency that expired last month, another impediment to the talks in Vienna. That agreement allows the nuclear watchdog organisation to collect data and monitor surveillance footage regarding the Iranian nuclear programme.

“We continue to urge Iran to stop this brinksmanship, to return to Vienna prepared for real talks and to be in a position to be prepared to finish the work,” Mr Price told reporters on Tuesday.

The slow-paced talks have largely centred on which sanctions the US will have to lift and which nuclear activities Iran will have to end for both sides to return to full compliance with the deal.

The last round of talks ended before Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line conservative cleric, won the Iranian presidential elections last month.

The Trump administration sanctioned Mr Raisi in 2019.

Updated: July 7th 2021, 9:39 PM