Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday that talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have not been suspended, despite reports that they've been halted.
At a press conference in Tehran, Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the negotiations pertaining to Iran, the European Union, China and Russia have concluded and what remains are outstanding issues between Iran and the United States. He added that the sides have agreed that talks should continue.
Iran wants its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps removed the United States' list of foreign terrorist organizations, but Washington is reluctant. In mid-March, some observers had hoped that the United States and Iran were close to announcing some type of deal but as time drags on the sides have grown no closer to even an interim deal.
Iran needs economic relief in the form of sanctions removal to help address economic conditions at home. The US sanctions on Iran make it difficult for the country to sell its oil and also conduct banking transactions. A return to the JCPOA would remove many barriers on the sale of Iran’s oil. With the signing of the original deal in 2015, Iran had harbored hopes that the removal of US sanctions would bring European investments into the country, but the Trump administration's 2018 exit dashed them. Even if Iran and the United States agree to revive the JCPOA, there is no guarantee the next US administration wouldn't do the same.
Khatibzadeh did say that the talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia are moving forward. He did not discuss details but said but the two countries had taken a two month-break before starting the current fifth round of talks to settle regional differences. Al-Alam News reported that the two sides are discussing regional issues including security in the Persian Gulf.
The talks between Tehran and Riyadh are being facilitated by officials from Iraq and Oman, both of which have reasons to want tensions to ease between the two countries. The latest meeting brought together representatives of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council as well as from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services. It was reported that if the talks continue to move positively that the next meeting could involve the foreign ministers of each country.