10:19 GMT26 February 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States must remove sanctions imposed on Iran and return to the nuclear deal if it really wants to discontinue with the policies of former US President Donald Trump.

    "It was the United States that left the deal, it was the United States that violated the deal, it was the United States that punished any country that remained respectful and complied with the deal. So it is for the United States to return to the deal, to implement its obligations," Zarif told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.

    US President Joe Biden said on Sunday he was not going to lift sanctions on Iran in order to get the Islamic Republic back to the negotiating table. Speaking in an interview with CBS and asked whether he expected Iran to stop enriching uranium beyond the limits set in the 2015 nuclear agreement first, Biden simply nodded.

    "Iran has reduced some of its commitments in line with the deal. The way to go back to full compliance on the part of Iran is for the United States, which has totally left the deal, to come back," Zarif told CNN, adding that "all the actions of Iran are reversible," but the US needs to hurry up in making up its mind with regard to the deal.

    Zarif stressed that Biden’s administration needs to decide whether the US wants to turn away from the policies of Donald Trump, or build on Trump’s "failures," which will inevitably lead to more failures on the part of Washington.

    Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that his country would only return to its commitments if US sanctions were abolished.

    CNN’s Zakaria asked Zarif whether Iran wanted any compensation from the US.

    "The United States needs to remove the sanctions and compensation was never a pre-condition," Zarif said, adding that Iran is ready to discuss the issue only once the US is back in the deal.

    Iran’s foreign minister emphasized that at the end of February Tehran was going to reduce the presence of UN inspectors in the country, but "that doesn't mean that the window is fully shut."

    Speaking on Iran’s national IRIB TV2 on Sunday, Zarif said that "the ball is not on our side."

    In December, members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or the Iran nuclear deal) expressed their readiness to support the potential return of the US to the agreement, something that was considered highly likely after the inauguration of Joe Biden who was US vice president at the time the nuclear deal was negotiated.

    In 2015, Iran signed the JCPOA with the P5+1 group of countries (the United States, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom - plus Germany) and the European Union. It required Iran to scale back its nuclear program and severely downgrade its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief, including lifting the arms embargo five years after the deal's adoption. 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.

    Tags:
    nuclear deal, sanctions, Mohammed Javad Zarif, Iran
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