Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday Iran will not accept US demands that it reverse an acceleration of its nuclear program before Washington lifts sanctions.
The demand "is not practical and will not happen”, he said at a joint news conference in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“The United States unilaterally withdrew from this comprehensive course of action,” Zarif told journalists, speaking through an interpreter. “It is the duty of the United States to return to this agreement and to fulfill its obligations,” Reuters reported.
New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed on Wednesday President Joe Biden’s policy that Iran must resume compliance with curbs on its nuclear activity under the world powers' 2015 deal before it can rejoin the pact.
Iran crossed the terms of the accord in a step-by-step a year after Biden's predecessor Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Earlier this month, Iran resumed enriching uranium to 20% at its Fordo nuclear plant – a level it achieved before the accord.
However, Iran has said it can quickly reverse those violations if US sanctions are removed.
"If the United States fulfills its obligations, we will fulfill our obligations in full," Zarif said.
Zarif said the US withdrawal from the nuclear pact, officially referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a blatant example of Washington’s “law-breaking”.
“Unfortunately, the US is used to imposing sanctions,” he added.
On Thursday, he also tweeted that the United States should act first by returning to the nuclear deal with Iran that it ditched.
“Reality check for @SecBlinken: The US violated JCPOA – blocked food/medicine to Iranians – punished adherence to UNSCR 2231. Throughout that sordid mess, Iran – abided by JCPOA – only took foreseen remedial measures,” tweeted Zarif.
Zarif was again blasting Washington for having illegally barred humanitarian imports to Iran.
“Now,” Zarif tweeted, “who should take 1st step? Never forget Trump’s maximum failure.”
Iran’s Parliament passed legislation last month that forces the government to harden its nuclear stance if US sanctions are not eased within two months.
It had earlier went beyond the deal’s 3.67% limit on the purity to which it can refine uranium, but it had only gone up to 4.5% so far, well short of the 20% level.
The new law also obliges the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to produce 120 kilograms (264.55 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium annually.
However, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said on Thursday Iran had exceeded the timetable by producing more than 17 kilograms within a month.
Cavusoglu said Turkey hopes the United States will return to the nuclear deal with Iran under Biden’s administration.
He said Turkey would also like to see sanctions imposed on Iran lifted.
“I hope that with the Biden administration, the United States return to this agreement and cooperation on the (nuclear) issue is restored,” Cavusoglu said. “In this way, God willing, the sanctions and embargoes imposed on brotherly Iran are lifted”, AP reported.
No quick outcome
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Thursday for the United States and Iran to work together to break the current stalemate on the international nuclear accord but said he did not expect a quick outcome.
"There's a lot of work to be done," and "I don't expect an immediate solution," Guterres said during a press conference when asked about the possibility of mediating a way out of the impasse.
"I believe that everyone, all those who entered the JCPOA and other interested parties must work together to reduce uncertainties, to face difficulties and obstacles," he said.
Without answering the question as to possible mediation, he said the matter is "progressively moving toward a situation where we can have an agreement that is essential for peace and stability".
"The JCPOA was a big diplomatic victory and an essential element for peace and stabilization," Guterres said, adding that "we regret that the agreement has been called into question".
"It's obvious that there are difficulties and obstacles, that there is an increased complexity because the US left (the agreement) and took additional measures (of sanctioning Iran). At the same time, Iran has taken some steps to develop its nuclear capabilities," he added.