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US State Department sees longer road ahead for Iran talks, lifting sanctions

Highlights

Deal may have to wait for Iran's June 18 election

Platts Analytics sees full US sanctions relief by Q3

The US State Department signaled June 3 that indirect talks with Iran on rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal and removing US energy sanctions could stretch on for weeks.

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The Biden administration had been attempting to strike a framework deal with Iran before the country's June 18 presidential election, which hardliners are expected to win.

Spokesperson Ned Price said US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley was returning from the fifth round of talks in Vienna.

"We've always said this will be a set of negotiations that spans multiple rounds," Price said during a press briefing. "We expect there will be a sixth. I think there's just about every expectation there will be subsequent rounds beyond that."

S&P Global Platts Analytics expects the US to remove sanctions on Iran's oil, petrochemical, shipping and other sectors by September, allowing the country to boost crude and condensate exports to 1.5 million b/d by December, from 600,000 b/d in May.

If sanctions are lifted, analysts expect Iran to return to pre-sanctions oil production of about 3.9 million b/d next year. The country pumped 2.4 million b/d in April, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC+ survey.

The State Department's Price said the talks have crystalized the steps both sides would need to take before returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"The fact is that we have made progress," Price said, adding that "challenges remain," including questions about the "determination of all parties to resume compliance with the deal."