“In order to return to the nuclear deal, the United States must lift all sanctions – practically and not on paper,” Khamenei told state television. Then his country will return to its obligations. This view is supported by all parties in the country, and nothing can be done about it. He emphasized, “Neither the Americans nor the Europeans have the right to present demands to Iran because – unlike Iran – they have not fulfilled their obligations.”
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad made a similar statement. Rouhani also called on the United States to take the first step towards settling the dispute because Washington abandoned the agreement. If the United States refuses, Iran wants to limit inspections by the United Nations atomic agency in the country. According to the Iranian constitution, Khamenei has the final say on all strategic matters.
In 2015, Iran signed an agreement with Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, the United States and China that is supposed to prevent the construction of Iranian nuclear weapons. However, under President Donald Trump, the United States unilaterally terminated the agreement in 2018 and left the agreement. Since then, the United States has imposed tough sanctions on Tehran, contributing to the worst economic crisis in Iran’s modern history. Many Iranians now hope Biden will change course.
Yet the new US president has made it clear – somewhat implicitly – that he in no way wants to bow to the conditions of the Iranians. In an interview with CBS, which was recorded before Shamini’s appearance, Biden said when asked whether the United States was prepared to lift sanctions as a first step in bringing Tehran back to the negotiating table: “No.” When asked whether the Iranians on their part should stop enriching uranium as a first step, Biden responded with a nod.
The Biden government has shown its willingness to return to the nuclear deal with Iran – with certain conditions. And US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the United States would do so if Tehran once again complied with all the terms of the agreement. A return to the 2015 deal can only be the initial stage of a broader agreement that the Biden government wants to work on with its allies.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said last week that the government was already in talks with other members of the nuclear deal. Iranian Foreign Minister Sarif has brought the European Union into the mediating role of the nuclear dispute.