Supreme leader says the United States must lift all sanctions before Iran reverses its steps away from the nuclear deal.
Tehran, Iran – President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran has seen “no serious efforts” from the United States after reports that the Biden administration proposed a new offer to resolve a deadlock over the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
In a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday, Rouhani pointed out that US President Joe Biden has emphasised diplomacy and admitted to the failure of his predecessor Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy.
However, the Iranian president said the Biden administration’s words have not translated into action, referring to the continued harsh US sanctions that Trump had imposed in 2018 when his administration walked out of the 2015 deal.
“Do you agree that Trump was a terrorist? If you don’t, then all your talk is invalid. If you do, then you shouldn’t continue his action for one more second,” he said.
The waves of US sanctions have affected every aspect of Iranian life, hampering Tehran from importing food, medicine and COVID-19 vaccines.
Earlier this week, multiple reports said the Biden administration offered a new proposal, including some sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for halting 20 percent uranium enrichment, to jump-start the negotiations.
The proposal was shot down quickly, as an unnamed senior Iranian official told state-run Press TV that Tehran will not reduce uranium enrichment in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions.
This is in line with what Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has called the “definitive policy” of Iran on the nuclear deal.
The supreme leader has said on multiple occasions that Iran will only come into full compliance with its nuclear deal commitments after the US lifts all sanctions and Iran can verify that, and is “in no hurry” to have sanctions lifted.
That hardened stance was announced after the US rejected an Iranian offer for a step-by-step return to the nuclear deal by both sides that would be “choreographed” by the European Union.
On Wednesday, Rouhani said restoring the nuclear deal would be very easy and requires no negotiations, despite what the US claims.
“The Americans are lying that they require time [to lift sanctions]. They can do it in an hour and we will only need a moment. There are a few screws we need to twist and untwist,” he said in reference to dismantling the cascades of advanced centrifuges Iran is now using to enrich uranium.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also echoed a similar message in a tweet on Tuesday, saying Biden is continuing on Trump’s path while trying to use sanctions as leverage.
“Nasty habits die hard. Time to kick this one,” he told the US, while quoting a Biden tweet from 2019 that said “it’s sadly ironic that the State Department is now calling on Iran to abide by the very deal the Trump administration abandoned”.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei said time is of the essence in saving the nuclear deal.
“Those who violate the nuclear deal must know each day of more delays in lifting sanctions on Iran will not only reduce the chance to restore the deal as the first and last solution to do away with differences, but will also push them farther away from achieving a better outlook of relations with Iran,” he said.
Iran is headed for presidential elections in June, in which many candidates are conservatives, including some with military backgrounds, that are expected to complicate nuclear deal efforts.