Sullivan: Still a 'fair distance to travel' in key issues in Iran nuclear deal

Sullivan: Still a 'fair distance to travel' in key issues in Iran nuclear deal
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National Security Advisor Jake SullivanJake SullivanSaudi prince's 'net zero by 2060' goal comes with intriguing contradictions Sullivan raised normalizing relations with Israel during meeting with Saudi crown prince: report Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns MORE said on Sunday there remains a “fair distance to travel” when it comes to efforts to renegotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran, but added the Biden administration plans to keep its “eye on the ball” following the recent presidential election in the Middle East nation.

“I think what we need to do in the United States is keep our eye on the ball," Sullivan said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Our paramount priority right now is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve that, rather than military conflict.”

“We're going to negotiate in a clear-eyed, firm way with the Iranians to see if we can arrive at an outcome that puts their nuclear program in a box,” Sullivan said. 

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“What I would say is that there is still a fair distance to travel on some of the key issues including on sanctions and on the nuclear commitments that Iran has to make,” he also said later on the matter during the program.

But he added he that the arrow has been pointed in the right direction “in terms of the work that's getting done in Vienna.” 

The comments come shortly after Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line Iranian cleric who has close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, won the presidential election on Saturday. Raisi was sanctioned by the U.S. under the Trump administration two years ago over human rights abuses. 

His candidacy was also met with pushback amid doubts over a free election given Raisi’s ties to Khamenei.

Sullivan was pressed during his interview on Sunday about whether he thinks Raisi’s election increases the chances of reaching a deal. 

“The ultimate decision for whether or not to go back into the deal lies with Iran's supreme leader and he was the same person before this election as he is after the election,” he said. 

“The question of which sanctions will be lifted is currently being negotiated in Vienna and I'm not going to conduct those negotiations in public,” he also said.