Biden sets new demands for Iran nuclear deal return: NYT

US President-elect Joe Biden had said during campaigning that he intends to offer Iran a "credible path back to diplomacy". PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President-elect Joe Biden will insist that Iran agrees to new demands if it wants the US to return to a nuclear deal and lift sanctions, The New York Times said on Wednesday (Dec 2).

The Times said the Biden administration would seek to extend the duration of "restrictions on Iran's production of fissile material that could be used to make a (nuclear) bomb" in a new round of negotiations.

Iran would also have to address its "malign" regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen in the talks that would have to include its Arab neighbours like Saudi Arabia, the report said.

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and has re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign against the US's arch enemy.

Mr Biden, who defeated Mr Trump at the ballot box last month, said during campaigning that he intends to offer Iran a "credible path back to diplomacy".

In the Times interview published on Wednesday, the incoming US President stood by those views, saying: "It's going to be hard, but yeah."

"Look, there's a lot of talk about precision missiles and all range of other things that are destabilising the region," Mr Biden was quoted as saying. But, he added, "the best way to achieve getting some stability in the region" was to deal "with the nuclear programme".

Mr Biden warned that if Iran acquired a bomb, it would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, "and the last goddamn thing we need in that part of the world is a buildup of nuclear capability".

"In consultation with our allies and partners, we're going to engage in negotiations and follow-on agreements to tighten and lengthen Iran's nuclear constraints, as well as address the missile programme," he told the Times.

Mr Biden was cited as saying that the United States always had the option to international snap back sanctions if need be, and that Iran knew that.

The 2015 nuclear deal - known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA - gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

In response to Mr Trump's withdrawal, the Islamic republic has retaliated by rolling back its commitments to the accord.

Iran's government has offered a cautious welcome to Mr Biden's victory, but conservatives have accused it of yielding to what they say is an "illusion" of a change by the "Great Satan" of America.

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