The indirect talks between Iran and several other countries to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear deal, have begun in Vienna after a five-month hiatus. However, the negotiators involved in the talks have little optimism.

Iran has made what is being correctly termed as “maximalist demands” and has denied access to key nuclear sites to the United Nations watchdog.

While much has changed since the last meeting, several things remain the same: Tehran is digging in its heels and demanding all sanctions by the United States be removed; the U.S. is threatening to walk away from the talks; and the Israelis are threatening to use military force to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that there is “no way” to return to the 2015 JCPOA unless all American economic sanctions are lifted. 

The U.S. “still fails to properly understand the fact that there is no way to return to the JCPOA without the verifiable and effective lifting of all sanctions imposed on the Iranian nation after the US departure,” he said.

“The main objective of the upcoming talks should be the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA and the pursuit of the goal of normalization of trade relations and economic cooperation with Iran,” Amir-Abdollahian added. However, many of the sanctions that he mentioned, and which were imposed by the Trump administration, have nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear program and are unlikely to be lifted. 

Ali Bagheri, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, said that Iran demanded a “guarantee by American not to impose new sanctions” or not re-impose previously lifted sanctions.

The U.S. has repeatedly stated that sanctions will not be lifted until the Iranians comply with the JCPOA. Therein lies the impasse facing the negotiators.