US Must Lift Sanctions Before Tehran Rejoins Nuclear Deal: Iran

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
February 8, 2021Middle East
US Must Lift Sanctions Before Tehran Rejoins Nuclear Deal: Iran
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran, on Sept. 14, 2007. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

The leader of Iran’s Islamic regime said if the United States wants the regime to “return to its commitments” and rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, it must lift economic sanctions.

“Iran has fulfilled all its obligations under the deal, not the United States and the three European countries … If [the U.S.] want Iran to return to its commitments, the United States must in practice … lift all sanctions,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a meeting, state TV quoted him as saying.

“Then, after verifying whether all sanctions have been lifted correctly, we will return to full compliance … It is the irreversible and final decision and all Iranian officials have consensus over it.”

President Joe Biden said he is not planning to comply with Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran.

Biden replied with a plain “no” after CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell asked him on Friday if the United States will lift sanctions first.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that provides an “authority to counter Iran’s conventional arms acquisitions, Iran’s indigenous manufacturing programs, and Iran’s ability to support paramilitary organizations with arms and materiel,” the State Department said in a statement in September.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks about the economy in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 5, 2021. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Besides the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union joined the agreement in 2015, which was intended to limit Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear arms.

The Trump administration has unilaterally withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, saying that the pact had failed to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons and allowed the Iranian regime to support terrorist activities internationally.

Biden, by contrast, has previously expressed a willingness to revive the deal while campaigning as the Democratic presidential nominee.

In September 2020, he wrote in an essay for CNN that “if Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”

Tehran has already breached the deal’s key limits by building up its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, refining uranium to a higher level of purity, and using advanced centrifuges for enrichment.

In January, the Islamic Republic said it has resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear site, well above the deal’s limit but far short of the 90 percent that is weapons-grade.

Reuters contributed to this report.