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Zarif urges unconditional lifting of all sanctions as US retreats from some anti-Iran steps

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Activists from Code Pink stage a protest in front of US Treasury Department demanding the lifting of sanctions on Iran.

Iran’s foreign minister has urged the Joe Biden administration to unconditionally lift all sanctions imposed on Iran under former US president Donald Trump after the US retreated from some of Trump’s anti-Iran measures.

“US acknowledged Pompeo’s claims re Res. 2231 had no legal validity,” Zarif wrote in a tweet on Friday, hours after the Biden administration rescinded Trump’s alleged restoration of UN sanctions on Iran back in September, which fell short of garnering enough support at the UN Security Council in the first place.

In recent weeks, Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads over which side should first return to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018 and tried to destroy with his so-called maximum pressure campaign.

“US unconditionally & effectively lift all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump,” Zarif said. “We will then immediately reverse all remedial measures.”

US acknowledged Pompeo's claims re Res. 2231 had no legal validity.

We agree.

In compliance w/ 2231:

US unconditionally & effectively lift all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump.

We will then immediately reverse all remedial measures.

Simple: #CommitActMeet

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 19, 2021

Tehran argues that the US should first lift all the sanctions put in place under Trump before the Islamic Republic returns to full compliance with the deal, as it was the US that caused the complication by pulling out of the deal, which in turn prompted Iran to take remedial measures.

Iran started to scale down its commitments under the deal, officially called the JCPOA, on May 8, 2019, a year after the US withdrawal. Since then, Tehran has consistently reassured the international community that it will return to full compliance as soon as other parties begin to honor their JCPOA commitments.

In a letter to the UN Security Council on behalf of Biden on Thursday, acting US Ambassador Richard Mills said the United States “hereby withdraws” three letters from the Trump administration culminating in its announcement on September 19 that the US had reimposed UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Mills said that sanctions measures terminated in the 2015 UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA with six major powers, but restored by Trump in September, “remain terminated.”

The letter, which does not change anything in practice, came in the midst of mounting pressure on the Biden administration to fulfill its promise of rejoining the JCPOA, and lift Iran sanctions, which it has so far failed to do.

Iran says the administration of US President Joe Biden has kept up his predecessor’s “maximum pressure” policy towards Iran that has brought along nothing but defeat and disgrace for Washington.

'Gestures are fine' but US has to lift sanctions  

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh later responded to the US move, which he called a mere “gesture” and said the US must lift sanctions in order to revive the JCPOA.

“Remember, Trump left the room and tried to blow it up,” Khatibzadeh tweeted. “Gestures are fine. But to revive P5+1, US must Act: LIFT sanctions.”


Reminder: Because of US withdrawal from JCPOA, there is NO P5+1.

It is now ONLY Iran and P4+1.

Remember, Trump left the room and tried to blow it up.

Gestures are fine. But to revive P5+1, US must Act: LIFT sanctions.

We WILL respond.

Here is the key sequence: #CommitActMeet

— Saeed Khatibzadeh (@SKhatibzadeh) February 19, 2021

American news website Politico claimed in a report that debates have been taking place among top Biden aides over whether rejoining the JCPOA is the best path for the US or taking other routes that may sidestep the original 2015 nuclear deal.

The report, published on Thursday, cited five people familiar with the discussions as saying that there are a lot of different views within the administration.

“I think there’s an instinct to return to the deal, but that’s not a preordained outcome,” said one of the sources.

“I don’t get the sense they have a timeline, like they don’t have dates and times” for reentering the deal, another source added.

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