President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday warned that efforts to obstruct the lifting of US sanctions would be tantamount to “a great betrayal” of the Iranian nation.
“It is a great betrayal of the Iranian nation if any faction, individual or group delays the lifting of sanctions, even for one hour,” Rouhani told reporters in televised remarks, hinting that the wrench-throwing is aimed at boosting the chances of those who wish to win in Iran’s upcoming presidential election in June.
He added that such a move will bring “eternal disgrace” for that faction or individual.
The president said sanctions are a violation of the rights of the Iranian people and must be stopped.
“The small minority that is obstructing this path needs to stop its destructive acts. If it stops, the government can put an end to the sanctions,” Rouhani pointed out.
The new US administration of President Joe Biden has announced its willingness to rejoin a 2015 agreement abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump, under which Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions. After Trump quit the pact and reimposed sanctions, Iran reduced its commitments to the deal in retaliation.
So far, Iran and the Biden administration are at loggerheads over which side should move first to revive the agreement, with Tehran demanding Washington first lift sanctions, and Washington calling on Tehran to first resume compliance with the deal.
“Today, conditions are better than ever for breaking the sanctions,” Rouhani said. The Americans, he said, are willing to return to their commitments under the deal.
“The Americans have explicitly stated more than once that the path of the previous administration was wrong and that ‘maximum pressure’ failed.”
However, he added: “Words are not enough. We are waiting for action.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said this week that unless progress is made soon on restoring the nuclear deal, diplomacy would be halted for months by Iran’s presidential elections, scheduled for June 18.
On Tuesday, France’s foreign minister said Iran’s pre-election politics are hindering the nuclear deal’s revival.
The stalled nuclear deal has been a flagship policy for Rouhani, who won landslide victories in the last two presidential elections against conservatives.
Rouhani is barred from standing for a third term, while the slate of candidates has yet to be finalized.