Iran’s foreign minister said on Sunday that if the United States was serious about rejoining Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, President Joe Biden could just issue an “executive order”, the state-owned Iran newspaper reported.
The accord, under which Iran curtailed nuclear work seen as a risk of developing nuclear weapons in exchange for a lifting of global sanctions, unravelled in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States, prompting Tehran to breach limits on uranium enrichment set by the pact.
At the G20 summit in Rome on Saturday, leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Britain urged Iran to resume compliance with the deal in order to “avoid a dangerous escalation“, saying they wanted a negotiated solution.
“It is enough for Biden to issue an executive order tomorrow and they (U.S.) announce they are rejoining the pact from the point where his predecessor left the deal,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the Iran daily.
“If there is a serious will in Washington to return to the deal, there is no need for all these negotiations at all.”
Tehran has said its nuclear steps since Trump abandoned the accord, saying it was flawed to Iran’s advantage, are reversible “if Washington lifts sanctions in a verifiable process”.
Talks between Iran and world powers meant to salvage the deal, which started in April, are slated to resume at the end of November, the Islamic Republic’s top nuclear negotiator said on Wednesday. The talks have been on hold since the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president in June.
Concerned about Iran now enriching uranium close to bomb-grade level of fissile purity, Western powers have repeatedly urged Tehran to resume talks, saying the diplomatic window would not stay open forever.
“Washington wants to continue a large part of the sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran. This is unacceptable for Iran,” Amirabdollahian said.
Iran denies any intention to develop nuclear bombs.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday Washington was “absolutely in lockstep” with Britain, Germany and France on getting Iran back into the deal, but it not clear if Tehran was willing to rejoin the talks in a “meaningful way”.
Holding up progress towards restoring the deal are sharp U.S.-Iranian disagreements over which steps need to be taken and when. Key issues include what nuclear limits Tehran will accept and what sanctions Washington will remove.
In addition to seeking the lifting of Trump-era sanctions, including those related to Iran’s record on human rights and alleged support for terrorism, Tehran has other demands such as assurances that Washington will not renege on the deal again.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.