Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenReuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that "hundreds" of US sanctions will remain on Iran even if the United States rejoins a nuclear accord, AFP reports.

"I would anticipate that, even in the event of a return to compliance with the JCPOA, hundreds of sanctions remain in place, including sanctions imposed by the Trump administration," Blinken was quoted as having told a Senate hearing.

"If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain unless and until Iran's behavior changes," he added.

The comments come as President Joe Biden's administration has been engaged in indirect talks with Iran about reversing former President Donald Trump's exit from the 2015 nuclear deal.

The discussions in Vienna, brokered by European diplomats, have been locked in dispute on which sanctions to lift.

Iran has insisted on a removal of all sanctions, while the Biden administration has insisted that some will remain if they were imposed over other concerns, including human rights and Iran's support for extremist movements.

Blinken on Tuesday reiterated support for returning to the nuclear accord.

The fifth round of indirect talks between the US and Iran ended on June 2 and diplomats have said a sixth may begin on Thursday, though that was not set in stone.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week that hurdles remain after the fifth round of talks and did not rule out the possibility of an agreement in the next round.

Blinken warned on Monday that if Iran continues to violate the 2015 nuclear deal, the “breakout time” it needs to amass enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon will shrink to weeks.

“It remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do come back into compliance,” Blinken told lawmakers, adding, “Meanwhile, its program is galloping forward. ... The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down ... it’s now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks.”