Department Press Briefing (Excerpts)

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
April 1, 2021


QUESTION: Can I go to Iran?


QUESTION: Yeah, so the European just announced that there will be a meeting of the joint commission of the JCPOA tomorrow, virtual meeting, without the U.S., if I understand, unless you will be observer or participant in some way. They also say in their statement that they are going to discuss the willing of the U.S. to get back to compliance for compliance. Does that mean that you have shared with the Europeans what you’re ready to do, and that they will kind of mediate with the Iranians? And can you tell us what your stance before this meeting, which is the first one since —

MR PRICE: Well, I just saw this announcement from the Europeans before I came out here. We obviously welcome this as a positive step, and that’s precisely because we have been clear for weeks now that we are ready to pursue a return to compliance with our JCPOA commitments, consistent with Iran also doing the same. We have also been open about the fact that we have been talking with our partners in the P5+1 context and elsewhere about the best way to achieve this, including through a series of initial mutual steps. We’ve been looking at options for doing so, including with indirect conversations through our European partners. I mentioned this yesterday, but when the Secretary was in Brussels last week, there was a meeting with the E3+1, or the European Quad, whichever term you want to use, where of course Iran was a topic of discussion. Iran was a topic of discussion in other meetings in Brussels as well. Iran was a topic of discussion in Anchorage with representatives of the PRC.

So we have been having these conversations in different fora and with different allies, and in some cases partners. We took note of the Europeans’ announcement today. It’s a positive step, especially if it moves the ball forward on that mutual return to compliance that we’ve talked about for a number of weeks now.


QUESTION: Following up on that, we understand there’s an – the Iranians already met with other members of the other parties to the deal on Monday. And there’s a – an Iranian proposal which sources tell us has been shared with the – with you guys. Can you comment on that, or tell us what – is there any substance to that?

MR PRICE: I’m not going to comment on the substance of any diplomatic conversations beyond the broad outlines of what we shared, namely that we have been looking at ways, proposing ways, exploring ways with our allies and our partners – principally our European allies in this case – to effect that mutual return to compliance with the deal.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Iran?

MR PRICE: Yeah. Sure.

QUESTION: One, there was the sanctions waiver for Iraq today. Can you describe, is that part of this effort to explore ways to get back into the talks, or is that just – how do you characterize that?

And then also later this week, Siamak Namazi faces a grim milestone of 2,000 days in an Iranian jail. Can you update us on what efforts the administration is taking to get him released?

MR PRICE: When it comes to the energy waiver with Iraq, I would put that in the context of our partnership with the Government of Iraq. This renewal acknowledges the recent success the United States and Iraq have experienced through two rounds of our strategic dialogue with Baghdad, and several energy agreements signed by the Iraqi Government as well. These agreements will ultimately allow Iraq to develop its energy self-sufficiency and, we hope, to end its reliance on Iran.

In the interim, renewal of the sanctions waiver is appropriate until the agreement – agreements and development of the Iraqi energy sector can be fully realized and implemented. This is a 120-day waiver extension. We believe it is possible within the 120 days for the Government of Iraq to take meaningful action to promote energy self-sufficiency and to reduce its dependence on expensive Iranian energy.

When it comes to the Namazis, you’re right. There is a grim milestone coming up: 2,000 days – 2,000 days separated from family, loved ones, held in – held unjustly in detention by the Iranians. This is something that I know we will mark here, we will mark here rhetorically, but also by renewing our calls that we have issued consistently, almost since day one, through different partners, means, and channels, to leave no doubt in the minds of Iranian leaders the priority we attach to this. We have no higher priority than seeing the return of Americans unjustly detained in Iran, Americans who may be missing in Iran. That remains our goal. We have been very clear. We have been working very closely with our allies and partners and being very clear with the Iranians as well on that score.