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Iran nuclear deal

Iran says confident US will lift sanctions despite nuclear deal ‘political wrangling’

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Iran is confident the United States will lift its sanctions despite ongoing “diplomatic wrangling” over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Saturday.

“We predict with confidence that diplomatic initiatives will result in a favorable outcome despite the diplomatic wrangling, which are a natural prelude to the return of the parties to their commitments, including the lifting of all sanctions in the near future,” state media quoted Rabiei as saying.

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US President Joe Biden’s administration has announced its willingness to return to talks to revive the nuclear deal Former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

Biden reversed Trump’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran had been restored. And the State Department eased stringent restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats in New York.

Yet, Tehran demanded that all Trump-era sanctions on Iran be lifted before taking any real action to return to the deal.

But White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed on Friday that the US would not take any additional steps on Iran before diplomatic conversation.

Iran has set a deadline of next week for Biden to lift sanctions reimposed by Trump, or it will halt snap IAEA inspections under the deal, which lifted sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. Next week is also when the IAEA is expected to issue a quarterly report on Iran's nuclear activities.

Reuters reported in an exclusive that the IAEA found uranium particles at two Iranian sites it inspected after months of stonewalling and is preparing to rebuke Tehran for failing to explain, possibly complicating US efforts to revive nuclear diplomacy.

Iran has long denied striving to develop nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment, though its intelligence minister recently said persistent Western pressure could push Tehran to fight back like a “cornered cat” and seek nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime is trying to get more concessions from Washington before taking any real action, especially in light of growing pressure at home due to economic hardship worsened by the US sanctions.

“Tehran urgently needs sanctions.. Iran also holds its presidential elections in June 2021 and, for the outgoing Rouhani administration, securing a quick return to the deal would build back lost economic and political confidence, and perhaps also impact the election outcome,” according to Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow at Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had said in a speech on Wednesday: “We’ve heard many promises which were broken and contradicted in practice. Mere words don't help. This time only action! Action! If the Islamic Republic sees action from the other side, it will act too.”

Some hardliners are already crediting what they describe as the Iranian regime’s perseverance in the face of US pressure for the recent Biden administration policy announcements.

"They have reversed some measures ... It is a defeat for America ... but we are waiting to see whether there will be action on lifting sanctions," state media quoted Tabriz city's Friday prayer leader Mohammadali Ale-Hashem as saying.

- With Reuters

Read more:

Iran reacts to US talks offer: Lift sanctions before we reverse nuclear actions

White House has no plan to take additional steps on Iran before conversation: Psaki

IAEA finds uranium traces at 2 sites Iran barred it from, will rebuke Tehran: Reuters

Biden withdraws Trump ‘snapback’ claim on UN sanctions against Iran

US willing to accept EU invitation for nuclear talks with Iran: State Department