Iran won’t return to nuclear commitments until US lifts sanctions, Khamenei says – POLITICO

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States must lift all sanctions against the country if it wants it to halt Tehran’s nuclear expansion.

Writing on Twitter on Sunday, he claimed that Iran “abided by all its commitments” under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In contrast, he said, the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Germany — four of the original parties to the pact along with Russia and China — breached theirs.

“If they want Iran to return to its commitments, the United States must lift all sanctions first,” he added.

The U.S. withdrew from the deal under former President Donald Trump and reinstated crippling sanctions on Iran, which responded by breaching the terms of the JCPOA step by step. The new Biden administration has signaled it could rejoin the accord if Tehran returns to compliance with the pact.

Khamenei’s comments came after U.S. media outlets reported on Saturday that Joe Biden was looking for a way to reengage with Iran without lifting key sanctions.

On Saturday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also called on Washington to return to the deal quickly as an Iranian parliamentary bill will force Tehran to take a tougher stance on nuclear matters if U.S. sanctions are not eased by February 21.

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Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bans imports of US and British coronavirus vaccines

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has banned the Government from importing coronavirus vaccines from the United States and Britain.

“Imports of US and British vaccines into the country are banned. I have told this to officials and I’m saying it publicly now,” the Ayatollah said in a live televised speech.

“If the Americans were able to produce a vaccine, they would not have such a coronavirus fiasco in their own country.”

Iran has been the worst-hit country by the coronavirus in the Middle East.

It launched human trials of its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidate late last month, to help defeat the pandemic despite US sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.

China and Russia, which are both allies of Iran, are possible sources for vaccines.(AP: Vahid Salemi)

Mr Khamenei praised Iran’s efforts to develop domestic vaccines but said Iran could obtain vaccines “from other reliable places”.

He gave no details but China and Russia are both allies of Iran.

“I’m not optimistic about France either because of their history of infected blood,” he said, referring to the country’s contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s and 1990s.

Khamenei says no rush for resuming 2015 nuclear deal

Mr Khamenei also said Tehran was in no rush for the US to re-join the 2015 nuclear deal, but that sanctions on the Islamic Republic must be lifted immediately.

“We are not insisting nor in a hurry for the US to return to the deal,” he said.

“But what is logical is our demand, is the lifting of the sanctions. These brutal sanctions must be lifted immediately.”

Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when US President Donald Trump exited the deal between Iran and six world powers — which sought to limit Tehran’s nuclear program and prevent it developing atomic weapons — and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

In retaliation, Tehran started gradually violating the accord.

Potentially complicating efforts by US president-elect Joe Biden to re-join the deal, Iran said on Monday, local time, it had resumed 20 per cent uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear facility.

The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran had started the process of enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity.

Tehran said it could quickly reverse its breaches if US sanctions were removed.

Mr Biden, who takes office on January 20, has said the US will re-join the deal if Iran resumes strict compliance with the pact.


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