Iran will “automatically” return to its nuclear commitments if US President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions imposed over the past two years, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Tehran’s return to its commitments “can be done automatically and needs no conditions or even negotiations,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in comments published in the state-run Iran daily.
Decades old US-Iranian tensions escalated after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed, then reinforced, crippling sanctions.
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While Trump has sought to maximize pressure on Iran and isolate it globally, Biden has proposed to offer the Islamic republic a “credible path back to diplomacy.”
Zarif argued that “America is obligated to implement Resolution 2231 as a member of the United Nations and its Security Council,” pointing to the UNSC resolution that enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal.
“If it does carry out this resolution and sanctions are lifted and there are no obstacles to Iran’s economic activities, then Iran will carry out” its obligations under the deal, he said.
Iran, which denies it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has since May 2019 gradually suspended most of its key obligations under the agreement.
It argued it was reacting to the sanctions and the inability of the other parties -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- to provide Tehran with the deal’s promised economic benefits.
Zarif described Biden as a “foreign affairs veteran” whom he has known for 30 years.
Once in the White House, Biden could “lift all of these (sanctions) with three executive orders,” Zarif argued.
If Biden’s administration does so, Iran’s return to nuclear commitments will be “quick”, the minister added.
Washington’s return to the deal, however, could wait, Zarif added.
“The next stage that will need negotiating is America’s return ... which is not a priority,” he said.
“The first priority is America ending its law breaking and rebelling.”
The New York Times reported Monday that Trump had last week asked top aides about the possibility of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Senior officials reportedly “dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike,” warning him that such an attack could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency.