Iran accuses US of ‘contradictory’ policies ahead of Joe Biden's Middle East visit

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman says US emphasis on economic pressure against Iran is not in line with its claim of wanting to revive deal

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Tehran, Iran,  June 23, 2022. AP Photo
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Iran has accused the US of having “contradictory” policies ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region, which is set to begin on Wednesday.

Part of Mr Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine will include discussions on the nuclear deal, which suffered another setback after its recent round of talks ended without an agreement.

Sanctions and the US terrorist designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are among the main sticking points in the Doha negotiations.

“Mr Joe Biden's emphasis on pursuing the policy of economic and diplomatic pressure against Iran is contradictory to the US continued expression of desire to revive the 2015 agreement,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

The nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was created in 2015 — and abandoned unilaterally during the Trump administration. Iran has since then increased its uranium enrichment, inviting condemnation from the remaining signatories of the agreement, the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany.

On the sidelines of the floundering deal, the US remained committed to a harsh trade sanctions policy known as "Maximum Pressure," although many of the sanctions have been waived under the Biden administration.

Ahead of his regional tour, Mr Biden had published an op-ed in the Washington Post reiterating the US belief that Iran had reneged on its end of the deal.

“My administration will continue to increase diplomatic and economic pressure until Iran is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, as I remain prepared to do,” Mr Biden wrote.

The US government “despite its slogans and claims of returning to the agreement … follows the same approach [as the previous administration] with the continuation of sanctions and economic pressure”, Mr Kanani said.

Talks on reviving the deal have been ongoing since April of last year, hitting multiple snags along the way.

Mr Kanani said if US officials wanted stability and security in the West Asia region, “they should understand the new realities of the world and avoid trying to impose American values and unilateralism”.

The US should “allow the countries of the region to act based on their values, interests and realities and within the framework of regional co-operation to ensure their security and collective interests,” he said.

Updated: July 12, 2022, 12:20 PM