The Biden administration announced on Friday that they will be opening indirect talks with Iran to discuss the nation's nuclear program, Fox News reports.
American officials will be meeting with officials from Europe, China, and Russia in Vienna next week to "identify the issues involved in a mutual return to compliance," according to the State Department
Returning to compliance refers to a return to the controversial Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, colloquially termed the "Iran deal." The deal was signed under former President Barack Obama during the later years of his presidency and was meant to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
The deal was lambasted by critics, who suggested that it would not actually prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that it would damage America's relationship with Israel and Gulf Arab allies, and that it allowed the Iranian government free reign to fund terrorism across the Middle East. The deal was ultimately sacked by former President Donald Trump in 2018, fulfilling a campaign promise.
Talks with the Iranian government, even indirectly, would signal a return to Obama-era policy towards the country.
"These talks will be structured around working groups that the EU is going to form with the remaining participants in the JCPOA, including Iran," a State Department spokesperson said. "We do not anticipate presently that there will be direct talks between the United States and Iran through this process, though the United States remains open to them."
Iran, however, has pushed back against the talks, saying that there were no direct talks planned between American and Iranian government officials. According to PressTV, Iran's state-run news outlet, the country plans on rejecting indirect talks and "step-by-step lifting of sanctions."
"In line with the unchangeable guideline of Iran's [Supreme] Leader, any result of the [nuclear accord commission] which would be based on the idea of a step-by-step removal of the sanctions or indirect negotiations with the US will not be acceptable," the outlet said.
Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, took to Twitter on Friday to reject the idea of hosting talks between the United States and Iran.