Iran says it will meet nuclear commitments if Biden lifts sanctions

Iran will "automatically" return to its nuclear commitments if US President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions imposed in the past two years, its foreign minister said Wednesday, November 18.

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

President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile called President Donald Trump's administration "unruly," and said a Biden administration could "bring back the atmosphere" that prevailed when the landmark nuclear deal was struck in 2015.

Decades old US-Iranian tensions escalated after Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed, then toughened, crippling sanctions that have hammered Iran's economy.

While Trump has sought to maximize pressure on Iran and isolate it globally, Biden has proposed to offer the Islamic republic a "credible path back to diplomacy."

Zarif argued that "America is obligated to implement Resolution 2231 as a member of the United Nations and its Security Council," pointing to the UNSC resolution that enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal.

"If it does carry out this resolution and sanctions are lifted and there are no obstacles to Iran's economic activities, then Iran will carry out" its obligations under the deal, he said.

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

'Lift the sanctions'

Iran, which denies it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has since May 2019 gradually suspended most of its key obligations under the agreement.

This includes producing and stockpiling more low-enriched uranium than allowed under the deal.

The New York Times reported Monday, November 16, 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 that such an attack could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency.

Iran argues it has moved away from its commitments because of the sanctions and the inability of the other parties – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – to provide it with the deal's promised economic benefits.

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 3 executive orders," Zarif argued.

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

Washington's return to the deal, however, could wait, Zarif added.

"The next stage that will need negotiating is America's return… which is not a priority," he said.

"The first priority is America ending its law breaking and rebelling." – Rappler.com