Iran’s President Urges Incoming US Administration to Rejoin Nuclear Pact
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged US President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office today, to recommit the United States to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which imposed temporary limitations on Iran’s nuclear development in return for a lifting of sanctions on Tehran.
Biden has said that the US under his administration would rejoin the nuclear agreement if Iran complies strictly with its terms. This, he hopes, will be a first step toward negotiating a longer-term agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear work, as well as its ballistic missile production and support for proxy forces in conflicts throughout the region.
“The ball is in the US court now. If Washington returns to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting. The Iranian president also called on the incoming US administration to “remove all the black spots of the previous four years.”
Outgoing US President Donald Trump exited the nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany – in 2018, imposing crippling sanctions on Tehran.
The Iranian response to Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign was to gradually breach the terms of the agreement. In early January, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed reports that Iran had enriching uranium to 20% purity, a short technical step from the 90% enrichment required for the production of nuclear weapons.
“Tyrant Trump’s political career and his ominous reign are over today and his ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran has completely failed,” Rouhani said. “Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive.”
Biden’s nominee for secretary of defense, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, said on Tuesday that Iran posed a threat to US forces and allies in the region, a charge rejected by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who countered on state TV that “the United States and other Western countries have turned our region to a powder keg, not Iran.”