Friday, March 5, 2021

Iran FM Zarif asks Europe to coordinate US return to nuclear deal

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Iran’s foreign minister on Monday asked the European Union to coordinate a synchronized return of both Washington and Tehran into a nuclear deal, after a diplomatic standoff on who will act first.

US President Joe Biden has voiced support for returning to the accord, from which Donald Trump exited, but has insisted that Tehran first resume full compliance by reversing measures it took to protest the sweeping sanctions imposed by his predecessor.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has previously demanded an end to sanctions before Iran acts, offered a way forward during an interview on CNN International.

Read more: Iran nuclear deal parties prepare for US return to accord

“You know clearly there can be a mechanism to basically either synchronize it, or coordinate what can be done,” he told interviewer Christiane Amanpour.

Zarif said that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell should play a role in his position of coordinator of the 2015 agreement — which also included Britain, France and Germany as well as Russia and China.

Borrell can “sort of choreograph the actions that are needed to be taken by the United States and the actions that are needed to be taken by Iran,” Zarif said.

“The United States needs to come back into compliance and Iran will be ready immediately to respond. The timing is not the issue.”

Trump walked out of the deal negotiated under former president Barack Obama, vowing instead to strangle Iran’s economy and reduce its clout around the region.

The Biden administration argues that Trump’s actions badly backfired, with Iran both moving away from the nuclear deal and only intensifying its opposition to US interests, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning that Iran could now produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon within “a few months.”

But Blinken again cautioned that a return to the nuclear accord would not be swift.

“If it decides to come back into the agreement — that may take some time, then it’s gonna take us some time to assess whether they, in fact, had made good on their obligations,” Blinken told NBC News in an interview broadcast Monday.

Zarif in his interview said that Iran could return to its previous commitments “in less than a day.”

Read more: Russia urges Biden must lift sanctions on Tehran to save nuclear deal

“Some may take a few days or weeks, but it won’t take any longer that it would take the United States to implement executive orders that are necessary to put back Iran’s oil, banking, transportation and other areas that President Trump violated, back into operation,” Zarif said.

Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear weapon but rival Israel has charged otherwise and threatened military action.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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