Iran’s foreign minister urged the new US administration to unconditionally lift all sanctions imposed on Iran under former US president Donald Trump after the US retreated from some of Trump’s anti-Iran measures.
“US acknowledged Pompeo’s claims re Res. 2231 had no legal validity,” Zarif wrote in a tweet on Friday, hours after the Biden administration rescinded Trump’s alleged restoration of UN sanctions on Iran back in September, which fell short of garnering enough support at the UN Security Council in the first place.
In recent weeks, Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads over which side should first return to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018 and tried to destroy with his so-called maximum pressure campaign, Press TV reported.
“US unconditionally & effectively lift all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump,” Zarif said. “We will then immediately reverse all remedial measures.”
Tehran argues that the US should first lift all the sanctions put in place under Trump before the Islamic Republic returns to full compliance with the deal, as it was the US that caused the complication by pulling out of the deal, which in turn prompted Iran to take remedial measures.
Iran started to scale down its commitments under the deal, officially called the JCPOA, on May 8, 2019, a year after the US withdrawal. Since then, Tehran has consistently reassured the international community that it will return to full compliance as soon as other parties begin to honor their JCPOA commitments.
In a letter to the UN Security Council on behalf of Joe Biden on Thursday, acting US ambassador, Richard Mills, said the United States “hereby withdraws” three letters from the Trump administration culminating in its announcement on September 19 that the US had reimposed UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Mills said that sanctions measures terminated in the 2015 UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA with six major powers, but restored by Trump in September, “remain terminated.”
The letter, which does not change anything in practice, came in the midst of mounting pressure on the Biden administration to fulfill its promise of rejoining the JCPOA, and lift Iran sanctions, which it has so far failed to do.
Iran says the Biden administration has kept up his predecessor’s “maximum pressure” policy that has brought along nothing but defeat and disgrace for Washington.
US has to lift sanctions
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh later responded to the US move, which he called a mere “gesture” and said the US must lift sanctions in order to revive the JCPOA.
“Remember, Trump left the room and tried to blow it up,” Khatibzadeh tweeted. “Gestures are fine. But to revive P5+1, US must Act: LIFT sanctions.”
American news website Politico claimed in a report that debates have been taking place among top Biden aides over whether rejoining the JCPOA is the best path for the US or taking other routes that may sidestep the original 2015 nuclear deal.
The report, published on Thursday, cited five people familiar with the discussions as saying that there are a lot of different views within the administration.
“I think there’s an instinct to return to the deal, but that’s not a preordained outcome,” said one of the sources.
“I don’t get the sense they have a timeline, like they don’t have dates and times” for reentering the deal, another source added.
JCPOA restoration matters
Russia on Friday welcomed initial steps taken by the United States to find compromise on the Iran nuclear deal.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters it was a "good thing" that the Washington was no longer calling for international sanctions on Iran, but said ultimately more work was needed, AFP reported.
"It is the restoration of the JCPOA regime that is important," he said.
"Sanctions pressure did not help the implementation of the agreement and brought the situation to a dead end," Peskov added.
Earlier in the day, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's Vienna-based envoy to international organizations, also praised Washington's move.
"It's a good sign confirming that the United States is ready for the JCPOA to begin functioning normally again," he told state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
The offer for talks came ahead of a Sunday deadline set by Iran for it to restrict some access to nuclear inspectors unless Trump's sanctions are ended.
China urges US unconditional return
China has welcomed Washington’s decision to return to the JCPOA, saying it is the only right way to break the Iran nuclear deadlock.
"All parties should act with greater urgency, work together to implement the consensus reached at the foreign ministers' meeting last December, and push for the unconditional return of the United States to the JCPOA as early as possible and lift all sanctions against Iran," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday, Xinhua reported.