21:16 GMT24 February 2021
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    This week, the French president proposed including Riyadh in the nuclear deal, suggesting that negotiators had made a mistake by not including regional powers in the nuclear talks, and warning that time was running out to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Tehran maintains it has no ambitions in that direction.

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal is not renegotiable, with both its terms and parties set in stone, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has said.

    “The JCPOA is a multilateral international agreement that has been endorsed and stabilized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. It is by no means renegotiable, and its parties are also definite and unchangeable,” the spokesman said in a statement published on the Ministry’s website.

    Recalling the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, and the Western European signatories’ failure to save it by coming up with effective tools to allow Iran to evade US sanctions pressure, Khatibzadeh indicated that reviving the deal would require Washington to pledge to return to its obligations and lift all sanctions against Tehran.

    As for French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments proposing the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the nuclear deal, and his warning about Iran’s alleged imminent plans to obtain nukes, Khatibzadeh suggested that Paris could play its part in improving regional stability by halting weapons sales to Riyadh.

    “If the French officials are worried about the huge arms sales to the Persian Gulf Arab states, they had better revise their policies,” the spokesman said, adding that Western arms sales, including to Riyadh for its ongoing war in Yemen, were "the main reason behind instability in the Persian Gulf region."

    Nuclear Standoff

    Hopes that the Biden administration would immediately begin the process of rejoining the JCPOA after coming into office 20 January have been dashed amid disagreements between Tehran and Washington on which side should make the first move. Iran says the US must take the first step by committing to a total lifting of all sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The US side, meanwhile, has indicated that it would rejoin the agreement only after Tehran resumes full compliance with its terms.

    Last week, Zarif argued that it would be absurd for Iran to be the first to “show goodwill” after withstanding four years of “brutal US economic terrorism” imposed in violation of both the JCPOA and the Security Council resolution endorsing it. “It was the US that broke the deal – for nor reason. It must remedy its wrong; then Iran will respond,” the foreign minister suggested.

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