Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Tehran’s “final and irreversible” verdict was to retort to compliance with the 2015 nuclear contract only if Washington elevates sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iranian state TV reported.
The remark, as well as U.S. President Joe Biden’s separate declaration that the United States would not exalt permissions just to accept Iran back to the negotiating table, seemed to be posturing by both parties as they consider whether and how to restore the agreement. The deal between Iran and six major powers restricted Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it tougher for Tehran to strengthen nuclear arms – an ambition Iran has long denied having – in return for the easing of the U.S. and other sanctions. But former U.S. President Donald Trump dropped the deal in 2018, charging it as one-sided in Iran’s favor, and reimposed permissions that have disabled Iran’s economy.
“Iran has fulfilled all its obligations under the deal, not the United States and the three European countries … If they want Iran to return to its commitments, the United States must in practice … lift all sanctions,” state TV quoted Khamenei during a conference with Air Force commanders.”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.”While Iran has insisted the United States first drop its sanctions before it resumes compliance, Washington has asked for a reversal.
In a section of a CBS News interview recorded on Friday and broadcast on Sunday, Biden said “no” when asked whether Washington would exalt permissions to persuade Tehran to the negotiating table. It was not obvious precisely what he intended, since Iran was permitted to enhance uranium to 3.67% under the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). A senior U.S. official later said Biden suggested Iran had to stop enriching past the deal’s borders, not that it had to stop enriching completely before the two sides might talk.
Biden has stated that if Tehran returned to the stringent agreement, Washington would follow suit and use that as a springboard to a broader agreement on other areas of concern for Washington including Iran’s missile development and regional activities. Those activities include support for representatives in conflicts roiling countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Iran has said it could instantly shift its JCPOA violations if U.S. sanctions are removed but have ruled out talks on its missile program and its influence in the Middle East, where Iran and Saudi Arabia have fought proxy wars for decades.