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Iran: No engagement with US without lifting sanctions

Picture taken on March 1, 2021 shows Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh addressing a press briefing in Tehran.

Iran has reiterated that the US has to lift its inhuman sanctions on the Islamic Republic before the two sides could engage in any negotiations. 

“Not only has Iran opened up the pathway towards diplomacy, it has also lip it up,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press briefing in Tehran on Monday.

He repeated a three-step pathway that Tehran has devised for Washington before the latter could find its way back to any negotiation featuring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA came about in Vienna in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries -- the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany.

The US, however, left the deal three years later under president Donald Trump and returned the draconian economic sanctions that the accord had lifted. Washington’s non-commitment and its European allies’ subsequent violations of the JCPOA prompted Iran to take a number of nuclear countermeasures.

Tehran has unequivocally asserted that it would only reverse its retaliatory steps in return for an effective lifting of the sanctions.

Referring to Trump successor Joe Biden’s administration, Khatibzadeh said, “The course that the US has to take should feature putting the wrong policies of the previous administration behind.”

He also regretted that to date, the Biden team has not effected any changes in his predecessor’s approach.

“We respond to measures with measures, and actions with actions. We respond to positive measures with positive measures, and will respond proportionately if we see a different behavior on the part of the US and Europe,” the spokesman noted.

‘Biden even did worse than Trump in some areas’

Khatibzadeh, meanwhile, said Biden has even did worse than Trump in certain areas for instance by trying recently to force a ratification of an anti-Iran resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Board of Governors.

He advised that the parties in violation of the JCPOA seize upon the most recent opportunity that has been provided to them by Iran.

The Islamic Republic was supposed to indefinitely suspend the IAEA’s short-notice inspections of its nuclear energy facilities on February 23. It, however, agreed during a recent visit to Tehran by the IAEA chief Rafael Grossi to limit the suspension period to three months.

“It is a source of great regret that Biden and his administration have gotten off to a very hopeless start,” Khatibzadeh said.

“You cannot have the same inflexible behavior of the former administration and palm it off on a country in the name of diplomacy,” he added.

The official was apparently referring to Biden’s expression of willingness to return the US to the JCPOA without taking any step that would mirror the alleged expression of interest.

‘Netanyahu mentally obsessed with Iran’

Separately, the spokesman addressed recent remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he tried to implicate Iran in an explosion featuring an Israeli-owned vessel in the Sea of Oman, and the Israeli prime minister’s rehashing of his claim that he was determined to prevent Tehran from acquiring “nuclear weapons.”

“Such a blame game only serves the Zionist regime’s corrupt prime minister,” Khatibzadeh said, noting that Netanyahu was afflicted with “a pathological mental obsession with Iran that is nothing new.”

The Israeli premier’s claim “reflects the confusion that emanates from the regime's adventuristic behavior both inside and outside the occupied territories,” the spokesman said.

Khatibzadeh, meanwhile, reiterated that nuclear weapons have no place in the Islamic Republic’s doctrine.

“Unfortunately, it is the Western world and the US that have closed their eyes to the Zionist regime’s stockpiled weapons and nuclear bombs,” he added.

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