Iran's Foreign Minister says time running out for US to revive nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif repeated Teheran's demand that Washington return first to compliance by lifting sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif repeated Teheran's demand that Washington return first to compliance by lifting sanctions.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - The United States should act quickly to revive Iran's nuclear deal because once Iran's presidential election period kicks off, it is unlikely that much will happen until later this year, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Monday (March 15).

Speaking at the European Policy Centre think-tank, Mr Zarif repeated Teheran's longstanding demand that Washington return first to compliance by lifting sanctions.

Former US president Donald Trump abandoned the deal, known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), under which Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions. Since then, Washington has reimposed sanctions and Teheran has responded by violating some of the conditions of the deal.

President Joe Biden aims to restore the deal, but Teheran and Washington each want the other side to comply first.

"The Europeans are used to compromise. Iran and the United States are not. The Americans are used to imposing, and we are used to resisting," Mr Zarif said. "So now is the time to decide: Will we both compromise and go back to the JCPOA, or will we go back to our own paths?"

Mr Zarif said he had seen no change between the Biden administration and the Trump administration's policy of maximum pressure to force Iran back to the negotiating table. He said he saw no reason to hold preliminary talks because the US was making "extraneous" demands.

"There is a time constraint and that is, once we go to our election, it is a lame-duck government and (it) will not be able to do anything serious, and then we will have a waiting period of almost six months," he said, referring to a presidential election due on June 18.

"It is advisable for the United States to move fast, and moving fast requires them not be shy, but take measures that they need to take."