Nuclear talks in Vienna
Nuclear talks in ViennaReuters

US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley will travel to Vienna over the weekend for fresh talks on reviving Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran on a return to the nuclear deal resumed in Vienna last week, after a six-month hiatus following the election in June of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The talks ended abruptly on Friday, at which point US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Iran and said it is not serious about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran, right now, does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance, which is why we ended this round of talks in Vienna,” Blinken said during the Reuters Next conference, after the latest round of indirect talks adjourned.

On Tuesday, Iran announced that the talks will resume in Vienna on Thursday. Enrique Mora, the senior European Union official chairing the talks, later confirmed the resumption of the talks in a post on Twitter.

A major point of contention between the sides is Iran’s demand that the US lift all the sanctions it has imposed on the Islamic Republic and also reassure Iran it will not abandon the deal again as a precondition for its returning to compliance with the deal.

The talks in Vienna have effectively been indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States, with diplomats from other nations shuttling between them because Tehran has refused face-to-face meetings with US officials.

Noting the EU statement that talks resume on Thursday, the State Department spokesman told reporters, "We understand that there will be a day of meetings before the heads of delegations need to attend ... so Special Envoy Malley and his inter-agency delegation will plan to join the talks over the weekend."

Price added that Washington should be able to make a quick judgment about whether Iran was willing to negotiate seriously.

"We should know in pretty short order if the Iranians are ... returning to negotiate in good faith," he said, according to Reuters.