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US should stop wasting time in lifting sanctions, returning to Iran nuclear deal: Leader’s aide

A military advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has criticized US President Joe Biden for dragging his feet over rejoining a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, saying the return of the United States means the lifting of all the sanctions it has imposed on Iran as soon as possible.

In an interview with China Radio International published on Saturday, Hossein Dehqan, also a former defense minister, said Washington has not made a positive response at a diplomatic level regarding a possible return to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was abandoned by former US president Donald Trump in 2018.

He said the US should return to the JCPOA and lift the all sanctions imposed on Tehran by the Trump and even by the Biden administration during his first days in office.

The JCPOA is a multilateral and binding agreement, which has been endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, but the US unilaterally pulled out of it and imposed sanctions on Iran, he added.

This move is tantamount to overlooking the achievements of multilateralism and exerting more pressure on Iran, he said, adding that the Islamic Republic has always maintained its strategic self-restraint and its good cooperation with other signatories to the JCPOA.   

Now the best decision that Biden can make is to accept that former American officials have made a mistake and that he would not pursue the same path, Dehqan emphasized.

The senior Iranian official said he believes that Biden is wasting time and opportunities which would make it more difficult to reach a decision.

The fate of the JCPOA, signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany — after years of diplomacy and intensive negotiations, remains unclear mainly due to the US measures, including its reimpostion of sanctions on Tehran.

Biden has repeatedly spoken of a willingness to rejoin the Iran deal, but, in practice, it has so far been sticking with Trump’s futile pressure campaign.

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter on Friday said a planned meeting by representatives of Iran and other parties to the deal in Vienna Tuesday would focus on “the nuclear steps that Iran would need to take in order to return to compliance with the terms of the JCPOA.”

In response to Porter’s claim, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in an exclusive interview with Press TV on Saturday ruled out any step-by-step lifting of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

“As has been clearly stated many times, no step-by-step plan is being considered,” Khatibzadeh said, adding, “The definitive policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the lifting of all US sanctions, whether those which Trump reimposed after withdrawing from the JCPOA or those which he initiated, as well as sanctions imposed under any other heading.”

Dehqan further said the lifting of all sanctions would mark a new starting point vis-à-vis the JCPOA, adding that the US should also assure Iran that it would continue the path.

He emphasized that the United States needs to take such measures, which would also be beneficial to the entire international community.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday criticized the new US administration’s foot-dragging on a return to compliance with the JCPOA, saying Washington has so far failed to seize the “golden chance” for a “win-win bargain.”

“As the Leader announced, if they (the US) return to the JCPOA, Iran will also return to its commitments. This would mean a win-win bargain for the region and the entire world, which would benefit them. The Americans were not able to understand that and failed to seize this golden opportunity,” the president added.

Iran says it will halt its countermeasures taken in response to the illegal US moves and sanctions only if Washington lifts its bans, arguing it was the US that left the JCPOA in defiance of global criticism.  

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