President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday hailed the White House departure of “tyrant” Donald Trump, saying that “the ball is in America’s court” to return to a landmark nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran.
Trump left office on Wednesday making way for Joe Biden, whose team has signaled a willingness to return to dialogue with Iran.
A “tyrant’s era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign,” Rouhani said in televised remarks to his cabinet, AFP reported.
He called Trump “someone for whom all of his four years bore no fruit other than injustice and corruption and causing problems for his own people and the world”.
During his presidency, Trump led a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran, pulling Washington out of a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018 and reimposing tough sanctions.
The sanctions targeted Iran's vital oil sales and international banking ties.
The nuclear deal, agreed between major powers and Iran in 2015 when Biden was vice president under Barack Obama, limited Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
Since 2019, Tehran has suspended its compliance with most of the limits set by the agreement in response to Washington's abandonment of sanctions relief and the failure of the other parties to make up for it.
‘Lift these sanctions’
Rouhani said Trump’s maximum pressure policy on Iran “has completely failed”, Reuters wrote.
“Trump is dead but the JCPOA is still alive,” he said referring to the agreement’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We expect [the Biden administration] to return to law and act on its commitments, and try in the next four years, if they can, to remove the stains of the past four years,” he added.
Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, confirmed Biden's desire for Washington to return to the nuclear agreement, but said that was conditional on Tehran's return to strict compliance with its commitments.
He said the United States would not make a quick decision on whether to rejoin the pact.
Tehran has repeatedly called on Washington to lift sanctions first and respect its own obligations under the agreement.
It has said it will then return to full compliance.
Rouhani said “the ball is in America’s court” and emphasized that when Washington starts to carry out its commitments “we too will act on our commitments”.
“If they return to the law, our response will be positive as well.”
Rouhani also said Trump registered “state terrorism” on America’s official record by ordering the assassination of top Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in a third country.
“We had [never before] seen a US president explicitly announcing that he had assassinated a senior military commander who was a guest in a third country,” Rouhani said.
“With what this stupid terrorist did, ‘state terrorism’ was inscribed on the forehead of the United States. Today is the end of the political life of the individual who violated international law and [US] obligations for four years,” he added, according to Press TV.
General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, were targeted in a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters after the cabinet meeting that “Biden should know that his responsibility is to lift these sanctions”.
Zarif said Iran will neither give concessions to the US, nor will it seek any from the Biden administration.
He said the US has commitments under the deal which it needs to fulfill.
Zarif also rejected a report by the French daily Le Figaro that Iran and Biden’s team “have quietly spoken” for the past three weeks to prepare for a return of the United States to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Le Figaro reported on Tuesday that Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi and a member of Biden’s team have held discussions in New York.
Zarif said Takht-Ravanchi had been in Iran over the past three weeks.
Biden’s choice to lead the Pentagon, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, said on Tuesday that Iran posed a threat to American allies in the region and forces stationed in the Middle East.
Zarif responded that “the US and other Western countries have turned our region to a powder keg, not Iran”.