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.
“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.
#Iran Leader endorses parl. & govt. move to reduce nuclear commitments. “If they return to their commitments, we will return to ours! This is what I said from very beginning. This was not done then bt now it must be implemented…” Ayat. Khamenei said, sanctions must be lifted pic.twitter.com/d4FNvhGc1i— Habib Abdolhossein (@HAbdolhossein) January 8, 2021
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.
“If they return to their commitments, we will return to ours.”
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.
“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.
We aren’t enthusiastic about further deviation of Tehran from its commitments under #JCPOA. But there is nothing to overdramatise. The nuclear programme remains fully transparent and verifiable. We should focus on means to restore comprehensive implementation of the nuclear deal.— Mikhail Ulyanov (@Amb_Ulyanov) January 4, 2021
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