Biden will not lift sanctions to get Iran back to negotiating table

President has said he will seek to revive the nuclear deal, but insists that Iran must first reverse its nuclear steps

Joe Biden has said the United States will not lift its economic sanctions on Iran in order to get Tehran back to the negotiating table to discuss how to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

Asked if the United States will lift sanctions first to get Iran back to the negotiating table, Biden replied: “no” in an interview with CBS News, which was recorded on Friday but released on Sunday ahead of the Super Bowl.

Donald Trump, the former president, unilaterally withdrew the US in 2018 from the atomic deal, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Biden has said he will seek to revive the deal, but insisted that Iran must first reverse its nuclear steps, creating a contest of wills between the nations.

Asked if Iran had to stop enriching uranium first, Biden nodded. It was not clear exactly what he meant, as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium under the 2015 nuclear deal within certain limits.

“Will the US lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?” CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell asked.

“No,” Biden responded.

“They have to stop enriching uranium first?” O’Donnell asked. Biden nodded.

Earlier on Sunday Iran’s supreme leader urged the US to lift all sanctions if it wants the country to live up to commitments under its nuclear deal with world powers, according to state TV.

In his first comments on the matter since Biden took office, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying: “If (the US) wants Iran to return to its commitments, it must lift all sanctions in practice, then we will do verification then we will return to our commitments.”

“This is the definitive and irreversible policy of the Islamic Republic, and all of the country’s officials are unanimous on this, and no one will deviate from it,” Khamenei added Sunday, reiterating Iranian leaders’ previous remarks that the US must ease its sanctions before Iran comes back into compliance.

The supreme leader, 81, has the final say on all matters of state in Iran and approved the efforts at reaching the nuclear deal in 2015.

In response to Trump’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, the country began to gradually violate its atomic commitments, and threatened further provocations in a bid to increase its leverage and get Biden to prioritize a return to the deal as he moves to dismantle Trump’s legacy. Biden has signed a series of executive actions that reverse course on a wide range of issues, including climate change and immigration.

Following the killing last December of an Iranian scientist credited with spearheading the country’s disbanded military nuclear program, Iran’s parliament approved a law to block international nuclear inspectors later this month – a serious violation of the accord.

Iran also has begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels and said it would experiment with uranium metals, a key component of a nuclear warhead. The country has announced its moves and insisted that all breaches of the pact are easily reversible. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Reuters contributed to this report

Guardian staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Iran disappointed over Biden administration's refusal to lift sanctions
New US secretary of state says Tehran would first need to fully comply with 2015 nuclear deal

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

28, Jan, 2021 @11:29 AM

Article image
US would only quit Iran nuclear deal if Tehran were to renege, Biden pledges
President makes commitment alongside Germany, France and UK not to repeat Donald Trump’s walkout on agreement

Patrick Wintour in Rome

31, Oct, 2021 @11:41 PM

Article image
Biden faces pressure to end practice of rewarding donors with plum foreign posts
Former state department career staff urge president to dismantle pay-for-play operations and to prioritize gender parity

Edward Helmore

17, Apr, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejects chance of direct talks with US
Iran's supreme leader forbids officials from engaging in bilateral negotiations despite foreign minister welcoming US overtures

Saeed Kamali Dehghan

07, Feb, 2013 @1:32 PM

Article image
Iran says it will comply with nuclear deal if Biden lifts all sanctions
Foreign minister calls on US to ‘show its good faith’ but appears to rule out renegotiating deal

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

03, Dec, 2020 @3:40 PM

Article image
Xi Jinping expected in talks to tell Joe Biden to ‘step back’ on Taiwan
War of words begins ahead of meeting, with US president warned Taiwan is China’s ‘ultimate red line’

Julian Borger in Washington and Vincent Ni, China affairs correspondent

15, Nov, 2021 @10:53 AM

Article image
Iran braces for fresh US sanctions including oil embargo
Country’s leaders remain defiant but citizens fear of impact on healthcare and currency

Saeed Kamali Dehghan Iran correspondent

04, Nov, 2018 @1:17 PM

Article image
Myanmar coup: Joe Biden threatens to resume sanctions
US president calls for international solidarity in confronting generals who have seized power in country

Patrick Wintour and Julian Borger in Washington

01, Feb, 2021 @8:02 PM

Article image
Joe Biden executive orders will reverse Trump on climate, Iran, Covid and more
Incoming chief of staff trails flurry of action in first days, meant to undo damage at home and abroad

Martin Pengelly in New York

17, Jan, 2021 @2:32 PM

Article image
Biden: Afghanistan evacuations would always have been ‘hard and painful’
President defends US exit but makes changes to airlift effort at Kabul airport after criticism over deaths and chaotic scenes

Martin Pengelly in New York and agencies

22, Aug, 2021 @9:37 PM