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Iran in no rush to see US return to nuclear deal: Khamenei

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said it was not a question of "whether the United States returns or not", it was a matter of it lifting its unilateral sanctions.

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Iran is in no hurry to see the US return to a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers after Joe Biden takes office this month, its supreme leader said Friday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said it was not a question of “whether the United States returns or not”, it was a matter of it lifting its unilateral sanctions.

“We are in no rush and we are not insisting on their return. Our demand, which is both logical and rational, is the lifting of sanctions” that outgoing US President Donald Trump reimposed after quitting the deal in 2018.

Read more: Can the Iran nuclear deal survive as Iran violates uranium thresholds

“We are talking about a right which has been stolen from the Iranian nation,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.

“If the sanctions are lifted, the return of the Americans makes sense.”

Since 2019, Iran has gradually suspended implementation of most of its key obligations under the nuclear deal, which set strict limits on its activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Other parties to the agreement, notably Britain, France and Germany, have pressed Iran to return to its commitments in a bid to rescue the deal, but Iran has repeatedly demanded that the United States first lift its crippling sanctions.

“When the other party meets practically none of its obligations, it is not logical for the Islamic republic to honour all of its commitments,” Khamenei said.

Read more: Iran nuclear deal parties prepare for power shift in US

“If they return to their commitments, we will return to ours.”

Israel warning

The IAEA confirmed that “Iran today began feeding uranium already enriched up to 4.1 percent U-235 into six centrifuge cascades at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant for further enrichment up to 20 percent”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily and charged it proved Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb — a claim the Islamic republic has always denied.

Read more: Iran informs IAEA, will enrich uranium upto 20%

“Iran’s decision to continue violating its commitments, to raise the enrichment level and advance the industrial ability to enrich uranium underground, cannot be explained in any way except as the continued realisation of its intention to develop a military nuclear programme,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“Israel will not allow Iran to manufacture nuclear weapons.”

The European Union said Iran’s enrichment programme would be a “considerable departure” from the deal.

Russia’s envoy to the IAEA said that Moscow is “not enthusiastic” about Tehran’s move but emphasised that “there is nothing to overdramatise”.

“The nuclear programme remains fully transparent and verifiable,” Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter. “We should focus on means to restore comprehensive implementation of the nuclear deal.”

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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