‘Window of Opportunity’: Iran’s Zarif Urges Biden Administration to Rejoin 2015 Nuclear Deal

© REUTERS / ALEXANDRE MENEGHINIIranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez (not pictured) during an official visit in Havana, Cuba, November 6, 2020.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez (not pictured) during an official visit in Havana, Cuba, November 6, 2020.  - Sputnik International
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Under the Trump administration, relations between the US and Iran quickly deteriorated and tensions reached new heights following the US' exit from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), imposition of a slew of designations and sanctions on Iranian officials and entities, and the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden on Friday to "choose a better path" than his predecessor and return the Land of the Free to the 2015 nuclear deal before the opportunity disappears for the administration.

Zarif urged in an opinion piece published in Foreign Affairs magazine that if the US were to rejoin the thoroughly negotiated agreement, “Iran will likewise return to full implementation of our commitments under the nuclear deal.” However, the official went on to warn that “if Washington instead insists on extracting concessions, then this opportunity will be lost.”

“Iran has significantly increased its nuclear capabilities since May 2019 - but it has done so in full conformity with paragraph 36 of the nuclear agreement, which allows Iran to ‘cease performing its commitments’ under the deal should another signatory stop performing its own,” reads the op-ed.

Zarif further states it is essential that the Biden administration “muster the genuine political will in Washington to demonstrate that the United States is ready to be a real partner in collective efforts.” 

According to the official, required steps to salvage the US’ role as a signatory of the 2015 deal include “unconditionally removing” all sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and those that were re-imposed when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 after alleging the terms were violated, and that the deal was fatally flawed.

Participants of the still active agreement include China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the European Union.

“In turn, Iran would reverse all the remedial measures it has taken in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. The remaining signatories to the deal would then decide whether the United States should be allowed to reclaim the seat at the table that it abandoned in 2018,” Zarif writes. “International agreements are not revolving doors, after all, and it is not an automatic right to return to a negotiated agreement - and enjoy its privileges - after one simply leaves on a whim.”

“The bargains - and indeed sacrifices - we made to secure the deal cannot be undone; not now, not ever. There cannot be any renegotiations. The United States cannot insist that ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable’ and expect to have its way with Iran,” the foreign minister added.

“The window of opportunity for the new US administration will not be open forever. The initiative squarely rests with Washington.”

Aside from the nuclear deal, Zarif also explained Middle East issues needed to be discussed and handled by “the peoples of the region, not outsiders … neither the United States nor its European allies have the prerogative to lead or sponsor future talks.”

Zarif’s remarks come just two days into the Biden administration and three days after Antony Blinken, the president’s unconfirmed nominee for secretary of state, told a Senate panel that the Biden team is seeking to start a new nuclear agreement that would also include the participation of Israel and fellow Gulf states.

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