Iran said Wednesday it would “automatically” return to its nuclear commitments if US President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions as the outgoing government doubles with more pressure.
Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four years under Donald Trump, who withdrew from a denuclearization deal and had imposed extensive sanctions.
Tehran once again fulfills its obligations “can be carried out automatically and does not require any conditions or even negotiations,” said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in comments published in the state-run Iranian daily newspaper.
Zarif described Biden as a “foreign policy veteran” whom he has known for 30 years. In the White House, Biden was able to “lift all of these (sanctions) with three executive orders,” argued Zarif.
If Biden’s government does so, Iran’s return to nuclear commitments will be “swift,” the minister added.
Washington’s return to the deal could wait, however, Zarif added.
“The next phase to negotiate is America’s return … which is not a priority,” he said, adding, “the first priority is for America to end its violations of the law.”
President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, called the Trump administration “unruly” and said a Biden administration could “bring back the atmosphere” that prevailed in 2015 at the time of the nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama’s administration, of which Biden was vice president.
The agreement offered Tehran relief from international sanctions in exchange for guarantees confirmed by the United Nations that its nuclear program has no military objectives.
– Trump team doubles –
Trump, who suffered no defeat in the November 3rd elections, will continue to put pressure on Iran in hopes of making it politically and legally harder for Biden to ease sanctions.
In recent moves, the Treasury Department said it had frozen all US interests of the Foundation of the Oppressed, officially a nonprofit for the poor that has interests across the Iranian economy.
The Ministry of Finance described the foundation as a “multi-billion dollar economic empire” and an “important patronage network” for Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which operates without state supervision.
The Iranian Minister for Intelligence and Security, Mahmoud Alavi, was also affected by sanctions on grounds of human rights.
Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged in an indirect response to Zarif when he arrived in US ally Israel that he would continue to impose “painful consequences”.
“The Iranian regime is trying to replicate the failed experiment in which sanctions were lifted and huge sums of money were sent to them in return for modest nuclear restrictions,” he said.
“This is worrying indeed, but even more worrying is the idea that the United States should fall victim to this nuclear blackmail and abandon our sanctions.”
Iran, which denies building a nuclear bomb, has been progressively suspending most of its key commitments under the deal since May 2019, including limiting the production and storage of low-enriched uranium.
The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency announced Wednesday that Iran had started operating advanced centrifuges in an underground section of its primary nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz.
According to the Iranian agreement with the world powers, uranium is only to be enriched with a less sophisticated variety of centrifuges.
In its report last week, the IAEA said Iran’s stock of enriched uranium is now more than 12 times the limit set in the 2015 agreement.
The New York Times reported Monday that Trump asked top aides last week about the possibility of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
According to reports, “senior officials advised the president not to conduct a military strike” and warned that such an attack could lead to a major conflict in the final weeks of his presidency.
Iran argues it has moved away from its commitments to provide it with the promised economic benefits of the deal because of the sanctions and the inability of the other parties – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)