BRUSSELS — Talks in Vienna aimed at reinvigorating the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration left in 2018 and which Tehran began breaking a year later made some progress this week: They didn’t break down.
Senior diplomats involved in the talks agreed on Friday that initial steps in two working groups designed to bring both the United States and Iran back into compliance with the accord were positive and would continue next week.
Although there are no direct talks between Iran and the United States, the other signatories to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, under the chairmanship of the European Union — are engaging in a kind of shuttle diplomacy between them.
One working group is focusing on how to lift the harsh economic sanctions that the United States imposed that are inconsistent with the terms of the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The other working group is focusing on how Iran can return to the limits on enriched uranium and the centrifuges to produce it under the terms of the deal.
Briefing journalists on Friday evening, a senior State Department official said that not all sanctions that were imposed against Iran during the Trump administration would be lifted — deliberately leaving open the possibility that economic penalties targeting the Central Bank or any terrorism activities would remain in place.
But the Biden administration is struggling to unwind the web of sanctions imposed by Mr. Trump that, the official said, sought to obscure which penalties were related to the nuclear deal and which were not. If Iran continues to insist that all sanctions are lifted, the official warned, the negotiations are
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