18:14 GMT16 April 2021
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    Tensions between Iran and the US have been running high since former US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal on May 8, 2018.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the United States to quickly rejoin the Iranian nuclear accord, warning that Iran’s June presidential elections could prevent progress in any talks.

    “A lame-duck government will not be able to do anything serious. And then we will have a waiting period of almost six months. We will not have a government before September,” Zarif said during an online conference with the European Policy Centre think-tank in Brussels, The Times of Israel reported.

    “A lot of things can happen between now and September. So, it is advisable for the United States to move fast,” Zarif advised.

    Iran has repeatedly stated that the US, which pulled out of the nuclear deal, must make the first move to make amends and should not set any preconditions.

    “We are ready to go back immediately after the United States goes back to implementation of the deal. That’s as simple as that,” Zarif noted.

    “We don’t see any reason for talks; we can go immediately to implementation and then have talks,” Zarif said, also noting that “up until now, this administration has done nothing different from the Trump administration.”

    In February, the Biden administration expressed interest in reviving the nuclear deal, but said it wanted to see changes from Tehran before it lifts the economic sanctions imposed on the Middle Eastern country by the Trump administration. However, Iran has said that it wants sanctions removed as part of the agreement to come to the negotiating table.

    In a briefing last month, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US and Iran are a “long way” from a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, The Washington Post reported at the time.

    Price also added that Biden has been “very clear” that “if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the [deal], the United States would do the same, and then we would then use that as a platform to build a longer and a stronger agreement that also addresses other areas of concern.”

    In 2018, the US abandoned its conciliatory stance on Iran, withdrawing from the JCPOA and implementing hard-line policies against Tehran, prompting Iran to largely abandon its obligations under the accord. In December, Iran passed a law to increase its uranium enrichment and stop UN inspections of its nuclear sites in response to the killing of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. At the start of January, Iran’s atomic energy organization announced that the country had succeeded in enriching uranium at 20 percent at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant.

    Iran had also threatened to suspend all Internation Atomic Energy Agency’s inspections of the country's nuclear facilities by February 23 if the US sanctions were not lifted by that time. However, after talks with the international watchdog, Tehran agreed to prolong the inspections but in a limited capacity.


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