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US must make up for past wrongdoings before returning to JCPOA: Iran FM

A file photo of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo by Jamaran)

Iran’s foreign minister says the new US administration must first make up for the past wrongs done to the Iranian nation after Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and reinstitution of sanctions on Tehran before being able to return to the deal.

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Jamaran website, whose text was published on Monday. 

He was referring to recent assertions by the new US secretary of state, who claimed that Iran should first restore full commitment to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), before the US could rejoin it.

Back in May 2018, former US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the JCPOA and adopted the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran with the declared aim of forcing Tehran to negotiate a new deal.

Trump’s maximum pressure has been met with Iran's “maximum resistance” policy, which includes austerity measures to weather the economic pressure as well as reducing Tehran's commitments under the JCPOA.

US President Joe Biden voiced strong criticism of Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA during his 2020 campaign, when he also promised to rejoin the accord signed when he was vice president. However, he has failed to take corrective measures since he assumed office on January 20.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently made comments in contradiction to what Biden hoped for.

Blinken claimed during a news conference on Wednesday that Iran was “out of compliance on a number of fronts” and that “it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations.”

Tehran, in the meantime, insists that a US return to the deal would be meaningless unless the unilaterally-imposed US sanctions were lifted in the first place.

In reaction to such remarks, Zarif said, “They are not only trying to get over the previous administration’s [malicious] track records [with regard to Iran] without paying any price, but also do this at our cost, and they themselves know that this is not possible to do.”

He added that the former US administration made a mistake and did great injustice to the Iranian people, saying Biden's team should take responsibility and make up for the previous wrongdoings.

"The conditions set by the Americans for returning to the JCPOA are meaningless. If there is a party to set conditions for rejoining the JCPOA, it is us [not the US]," the foreign minister said.

He emphasized that it was the US that withdrew from the nuclear deal and, therefore, it should agree to Iran's conditions.

Zarif's latest remarks came after his American counterpart claimed that Iran may be just "a matter of weeks" away from having material for nuclear weapon if it continues to lift restraints of the nuclear deal.

In an interview with NBC News that was published on Monday, Blinken said the US is willing to return to compliance with the JCPOA if Iran does and then work with Washington's allies and partners on a "longer and stronger" agreement encompassing other issues.

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