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Iran pushing Biden to act first, drop sanctions before reviving nuclear deal

Iran’s foreign minister is reportedly urging President Biden to make the first move toward reviving a 2015 nuclear deal “by removing all sanctions imposed since [former President Donald] Trump assumed office” — despite lingering concerns about the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of atomic weapons

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comments in a recent article published by Foreign Affairs magazine, in which he added that Iran’s willingness to go back to the agreement would erode if the Biden administration demands further concessions up front, according to Reuters

Biden “can begin by removing all sanctions imposed since Trump assumed office and seek to re-enter and abide by the 2015 nuclear deal without altering its painstakingly negotiated terms,” Zarif wrote. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a forum titled "Common Security in the Islamic World" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in August.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a forum titled “Common Security in the Islamic World” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in August.
(AP)

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“In turn, Iran would reverse all the remedial measures it has taken in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” he added. 

The Iran nuclear deal framework — officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was a historic agreement reached by Iran and several world powers, including the U.S., in 2015, during Barack Obama’s presidency.  

Trump, during his time as president, withdrew from the deal in 2018, calling it “defective at its core”. He started imposing further sanctions and, since then, Iran has started violating its terms in response. 

In November, Iran’s parliament passed a law that requires its government to halt International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of nuclear sites and to increase uranium enrichment if the U.S. does not scale back sanctions, Reuters reported. 

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The United Nations’ atomic watchdog chief also stressed urgency earlier this month in reviving the deal

Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the IAEA, spoke out after Iran resumed enriching uranium up to 20% — which is closer to the 90% purity needed to create nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.  

“It is clear that we don’t have many months ahead of us. We have weeks,” Grossi had said in an interview. 

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Biden has signaled his desire for the U.S. to rejoin the deal pending Iran goes back to following its requirements. 

“But we would use that, as a platform with our allies and partners… to seek a longer and stronger agreement and also… to capture these other issues, particularly with regard to missiles and Iran’s destabilizing activities,” Antony Blinken, Biden’s Secretary of State, was quoted by Reuters as saying last week. 

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