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China Daily Global / 2020-11 / 20 / Page006

Iran to return to deal if US lifts sanctions

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-11-20 00:00

TEHERAN-Iran said it would "automatically" return to its nuclear commitments if US Democrat Joe Biden lifts sanctions, as the administration of US President Donald Trump doubled down with more pressure.

Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four years of Trump, who withdrew from a landmark denuclearization accord and slapped sweeping sanctions.

Teheran again meeting its commitments "can be done automatically and needs no conditions or even negotiations", Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday in comments published in the state-run Iran daily.

Zarif described Biden as a "foreign affairs veteran" whom he has known for 30 years. Once in the White House, Biden could "lift all of these (sanctions) with three executive orders", Zarif said.

If a Biden administration does so, Iran's return to nuclear commitments will be "quick", he added.

Washington's return to the deal, however, could wait, Zarif said."The next stage that will need negotiating is America's return... which is not a priority," he said, adding that "the first priority is America ending its law-breaking".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, called the Trump administration "unruly", and said a Biden administration could "bring back the atmosphere" that prevailed in 2015 at the time of the nuclear deal, which was negotiated by then US president Barack Obama's administration in which Biden was vice-president.

Ramping up pressure

The accord offered Teheran relief from international sanctions in exchange for guarantees, verified by the United Nations, that its nuclear program has no military aims.

Trump, who has not accepted defeat to Biden in the Nov 3 election, is moving to keep ramping up pressure on Iran, hoping to make it more difficult politically and legally for Biden to ease sanctions.

In the latest moves, the US Treasury Department said it was freezing any US interests of the Foundation of the Oppressed, officially a charitable organization for the poor that has interests across the Iranian economy.

The Treasury described the foundation as a "multibillion-dollar economic empire" and "key patronage network" for Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that operates without government oversight.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an indirect response to Zarif as he arrived in US ally Israel, vowed to keep imposing "painful consequences".

The New York Times reported on Monday that Trump had last week asked top aides about the possibility of striking Iran's nuclear facilities.

Senior officials reportedly "dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike", warning him such an attack could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency.

Agencies - Xinhua

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