Seyyed Abbas Araqchi made the remarks to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, referring to Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The US left the deal in May 2018 under the outgoing President Donald Trump and returned the sanctions that the accord had lifted. This prompted Iran to begin a set of nuclear countermeasures to trigger Washington and other deal partners to resume their JCPOA commitments, Press TV wrote on Thursday.
As the US would steadily refrain from doing so, the Islamic Republic stepped up its reprisal until it announced in 2019 that it was no longer committed to the limits it had undertaken to observe under the deal, including the uranium enrichment at 20% purity level.
Incoming US President Joe Biden has, however, voiced a willingness to bring his country back into the deal.
Araqchi reminded that the US reintroduction of the illegal and unilateral sanctions had afflicted “much pain and suffering” on Iranians throughout the past years, noting that Iranian diplomats would not spare even a minute to try to have the bans lifted.
The official said Iran would welcome Washington’s potential resumption of its nuclear obligations, "but we are not begging for their return,” adding, "It is up to them to decide."
Meanwhile, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said the country can easily enrich uranium to levels above 20%, even to 90% purity, a few days after Iran began 20% uranium enrichment at its Fordo nuclear facility.
“[Our] progress has been made in such a way that we can easily enrich uranium to any percentage, even above 40%, 60% and 90%,” Kamalvandi said.
Iran’s government announced on Monday the beginning of a process to enrich uranium to 20%, after President Hassan Rouhani ordered the implementation of a new law, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which was recently passed by the Parliament.
Kamalvandi said the AEOI is allowed to enrich uranium even above 20% if there is a need for that in other areas, adding, “So, we are examining other areas as well.”
“If we decide to enrich [uranium] above 20% today, it can be easily done and we are considering the needs [in other areas],” he reiterated.