Iran is not in a hurry for the United States to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Friday, adding that Tehran’s main demand is the lifting of all sanctions on the country.
“We are in no hurry for America to rejoin the nuclear deal. What we are emphasizing is the lifting of sanctions … they must lift all sanctions on Iran immediately,” Khamenei said in a live televised speech.
Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since outgoing US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran in 2018 as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the accord if Iran returns to complying with it.
A US return to the deal without lifting sanctions on Iran is meaningless, Khamenei said. “If sanctions are lifted, then a US return to the deal will mean something, but if that does not happen, a US return to the deal could even be to our detriment.”
Khamenei added that Iran will reverse its nuclear steps if the other parties to the nuclear deal fulfill their commitments.
On Monday, Iran said it resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment at an underground nuclear facility, breaching the deal.
Khamenei also stressed Iran will not end its presence in neighboring countries.
“The Islamic Republic is obliged to act in such a way that its friends and supporters are strengthened in the region. This is our duty. We must not allow our friends to be weakened,” he said.
Khamenei also appeared to signal unwillingness to negotiate Iran’s ballistic missiles program, saying: “We should not leave the country defenseless.”