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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 8 March 2021

Iran's Rouhani says ball in America's court on nuclear dispute

Tehran urges US president-elect Joe Biden to return to the 2015 nuclear deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani welcomed the end of Donald Trump's presidency. AFP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani welcomed the end of Donald Trump's presidency. AFP

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday urged the incoming US administration to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on Tehran, while welcoming the end of President Donald Trump's term in office.

President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, said the US will rejoin the pact, which includes restrictions on Iran's nuclear programme, if Tehran resumes strict compliance.

"The ball is in the US court now. If Washington returns to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact," Mr Rouhani told a televised Cabinet meeting.

"Today, we expect the incoming US administration to return to the rule of law and commit themselves, and if they can, in the next four years, to remove all the black spots of the previous four years," he said.

Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Mr Trump quit the deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to limit Tehran's nuclear programme and prevent it from developing atomic weapons. The US reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Iran, which denies seeking nuclear arms, reacted to Mr Trump's "maximum pressure" policy by gradually breaching the accord.

Tehran repeatedly said it could quickly reverse those steps if US sanctions were removed.

"Tyrant Trump's political career and his ominous reign are over today and his 'maximum pressure' policy on Iran has completely failed. Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive," Mr Rouhani said.

Antony Blinken, Mr Biden's nominee for secretary of state, said on Tuesday that the US would not take a quick decision on whether to rejoin the pact.

Mr Biden appears to consider a return to the deal as a prelude to wider talks on Iran’s nuclear work, its ballistic missiles and regional activities. But Tehran ruled out halting its missile programme or changing its regional policy.

Mr Biden’s choice to lead the Pentagon, retired army general Lloyd Austin, said on Tuesday that Iran posed a threat to US allies in the region and forces stationed in the Middle East.

Updated: January 20, 2021 03:57 PM

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