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US will not return to Iran deal before Tehran comes back into ‘full compliance’

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The United States will not return to any previous Iran nuclear deal before Tehran “comes back into full compliance” with its obligations, newly-confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the new administration will take a “very close look” at the recent designation of Yemen’s Houthi militia as a terrorist organization.

Iran has appeared excited about the prospects of a new deal with Washington after Joe Biden was elected as the 46th US president.

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Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has said in recent weeks that the US “must remedy its wrong; then Iran will respond.”

But Blinken doubled down on what he said during his Senate confirmation hearing. Iran must first “come back into full compliance with obligations under the JCPOA” before reciprocity from the US, he said during his first news conference.

“Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts. And it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations,” he said. “We’re not there yet, to say the least.”

Read more: New US secretary of state addresses Biden administration priorities, Iran deal

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal, which was brokered under former President Barack Obama, as he launched a maximum pressure campaign on Iran with hard-hitting economic sanctions.

If Iran returns to the deal, Washington will seek to build what Blinken called a “longer and stronger agreement” to deal with other “deeply problematic” issues.

He appeared to be referring to Iran’s regional proxies and militias and its ballistic missile program.

This is something Zarif and Iran have claimed they would not discuss as part of a new deal.

One of Iran’s proxies in the region is the Houthi militia in Yemen. Before leaving the White House, the Trump administration slapped a terrorist designation on the group for its continued missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and its prevention of reaching a political solution to the war in Yemen.

But Blinken said the State Department would take a “very urgent and a very close look” at the designation.

Of all the steps that the previous administration took in their waning days, “that’s the priority in my book,” Blinken said of the designation. “We’re taking a very urgent and a very close look at that.”

Waivers and licenses were issued shortly before the Trump administration left the White House in order to ensure that humanitarian aid would continue to flow.

Read more: Gulf states, Israel demand seat at Iran nuclear deal negotiations: UAE Diplomat

- With agencies