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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden said he won't lift sanctions against Iran as long as the Islamic republic is not adhering to its nuclear deal commitments.
Biden said the US won’t use sanctions relief as a tool to re-engage Tehran in negotiations over the 2015 nuclear accord, indicating he would only lift sanctions if Iran stops enriching uranium beyond the limits of the nuclear deal.
Asked whether he would halt sanctions to convince Iran to return to the bargaining table, Biden offered a clear reply in a CBS interview aired Sunday: "No."
The journalist then asked if the Iranians would first have to stop enriching uranium, which drew an affirmative nod from Biden.
The 2015 landmark deal has been hanging by a thread since Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from it in 2018 and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Tehran a year later suspended its compliance with most key nuclear commitments to the deal.
The Biden administration has expressed willingness to return to the deal, but insisted that Tehran first resume full compliance.
On Jan. 4, Iran announced it has stepped up its uranium enrichment process to 20 percent purity, far above the 3.67 percent level permitted by the deal, but far below the amount required for an atomic bomb.
Before President Biden’s interview, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a speech Sunday reiterated Iran’s stance that it is Washington that must lift sanctions and come back into compliance with the nuclear accord.
Khamenei’s remarks echo statements by Iranian officials who in recent weeks have said that Tehran is in no hurry for the US to rejoin the nuclear deal, and that Iran’s first priority is sanctions relief, not the survival of the accord.
President Hassan Rouhani earlier this month said Iran wouldn’t accept any changes to the 2015 nuclear deal. — Agencies
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