WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The fragile discussions over the revival of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal were about two weeks away from reaching a conclusion in June, but several complicated data-x-items remain unresolved, according to a senior German government official participating in the talks.
Earlier this year, signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, began the first of what would become six rounds of all-day negotiations at multiple hotels across Vienna.
“In March our determination and that of our American friends was to get this done quickly. It took longer than we thought. But I think, in June, another two weeks of serious negotiation and political will, we could have had it,” the senior German government official said.
Until that point, the progress had been “quite substantial,” the official said.
“As it always is in these kinds of negotiations, the most complicated points were left to the end and we’re not resolved, but I would say, we started with a blank piece of paper and by June we had four different texts and something like 1,520 pages of the agreement hammered out,” the official explained.
The official requested anonymity in order to discuss the negotiations candidly, CNBC reported.
The pause in talks follows the election of Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, who will succeed Hassan Rouhani this week.
When asked whether the incoming Raisi administration has spoken to the negotiating teams, the German official said there has yet to be any communication.
“I think there are enough indications that there is a real debate within the Iranian system on how to proceed with these negotiations,” the German official said.
Raisi said in a televised speech on Tuesday that he will lift the “tyrannical sanctions imposed by America” and improve the living conditions of Iranians.
In June, Raisi ruled out a meeting with Biden after he is sworn in on Thursday.
Raisi, who is under personal U.S. sanctions, is expected to adopt an assertive approach at the talks in Vienna.
“What we think are the next steps, is that they [Iranians] will come back to Vienna once the government is formed. So this brings us to the middle of August and then we will meet and see which kind of negotiating positions they come with,” the German official said.
As Iran and Western powers prepare for a potential seventh round of talks, the German official said the negotiations thus far have been “very straightforward.”
“We had quite a good understanding with the Iranians on how the reentry into the JCPOA would work. I don’t want to underplay what remained contentious though, that was substantial,” the official said.
When asked to elaborate on the major sticking points, the official said that the Iranians often reiterate concerns that the United States will withdraw with the start of a new administration.
“They want to guarantee that there won’t be any Trump 2.0 as long as they are in full compliance, that the Americans won’t simply draw out of the agreement again,” the German official said.
Another conflicting issue is the scope of the sanctions relief for Tehran, in which Iranian representatives have called for more easing.
“We together with our American friends say the sanctions which needs to be lifted, are those which have a JCPOA connection,” the official said, adding that penalties for human rights would remain intact. “There are other issues we need to talk about in follow-on talks which the Iranians are not willing to commit to,” the person added.