14:17 GMT28 February 2021
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    The Trump administration has been caught up in a sanctions frenzy in the president’s final days in office, issuing restrictions against dozens of individuals and entities, ranging from Iranian officials, companies and organizations to foreign firms and businessmen in areas including mining, steelmaking and shipping, plus Iran’s defence sector.

    An attempt by the incoming Biden administration to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal without first scrapping the hundreds of sanctions Washington has slapped on Tehran would be tantamount to “extortion” and must be rejected, Kamal Kharrazi, chairman of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations and advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said.

    “If the US decides to return to the JCPOA without lifting sanctions, this would amount to extortion, because [Washington would then] put forward a new request for the lifting of every ban,” Kharrazi said, his remarks published by Khamenei’s official website and cited in English by PressTV.

    The advisor suggested that “the correct path” for the US would be to first “lift all the sanctions that were imposed” against Iran “in the form of executive orders by the US president, be it nuclear-related or [those] slapped under the labels of terrorism and human rights.”

    “Of course, if the United States does not return to the JCPOA at all, this is a practical step that the European signatories must follow to fulfill their commitments so that we can return to fulfilling our commitments,” Kharrazi added.

    According to Kharrazi’s calculations, since abrogating its commitments under the JCPOA, the US has sanctioned over 1,500 Iranian companies and individuals, “and that does not include [restrictions against] organizations and other sanctions.”

    The advisor suggested that if for whatever reason the sanctions are not lifted, Iran must seek to neutralize their impact. “We have a lot of potential and capabilities to render the sanctions ineffective, provided that we muster the will, strive and meet the challenges outright,” he said. The official added that the Islamic Republic has proven in recent decades that it will “never submit to the pressures” and bullying of others.

    On Friday, the US State Department announced a new round of sanctions against an array of Iranian defence sector entities over the “proliferation” of conventional weapons abroad, simultaneously targeting companies and persons from China and the United Arab Emirates over the sale of steel products to Iran and associating with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

    Days earlier, the Treasury imposed Iran-related sanctions on 16 entities and three individuals, with the week before seeing a separate round of new restrictions against Iranian industrial entities and foreign firms working with them.

    In December, the Trump administration approved at least two more rounds of sanctions against Tehran.

    Iran has blasted the Trump administration for its sanctions policy, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has characterized as “lawless bullying,” but also stressed repeatedly that it could not be pressured into submission.

    Last week, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Tehran was in no hurry to see Washington rejoin the nuclear deal, but stressed that the US must lift its sanctions, which he called “a treachery and crime against the Iranian nation.”

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, one of the US administration officials unaffected by the Trump Twitter ban, issued a fresh salvo of vitriol against Iran on Tuesday, suggesting that it would be easier to find “a unicorn” than to normalize relations with the “Iranian regime.”

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