Iran’s Zarif Rules Out Renegotiating Nuclear Deal With Biden

Iran will not renegotiate the nuclear accord it reached with world powers, its foreign minister said, drawing a line in the sand ahead of Joe Biden’s assumption of the U.S. presidency.

By walking out of an agreement anchored in a United Nations resolution, the U.S. is not in a position to impose conditions, Mohammad Javad Zarif told a virtual Rome conference on foreign affairs on Thursday.

“The United States must cease its violations of international law, it doesn’t require any negotiations,” Zarif said. “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated. The deal was about give and take, it wasn’t about one side asking and the other side giving.”

President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, in an unsuccessful attempt to force it to enter talks on a tougher pact. Biden has said he’ll rejoin the deal if Iran also returns to full compliance, and then push to broaden it.

In addition to insisting on the removal of sanctions, Iran has demanded economic compensation for the devastation they’ve wrought on the country. On Thursday, Zarif signaled a price tag when he observed that the nuclear deal “is not a revolving door.”

“It’s not that you can come in, impose restrictions on others, benefit from the privileges of membership and then all of a sudden decide to leave and inflict $250 billion of damage on the Iranian people,” he said.

On Wednesday, Iran gave the Biden administration just weeks to make a diplomatic breakthrough by giving final approval to a bill compelling President Hassan Rouhani to end international nuclear inspections unless the U.S. lifts key sanctions by February.

The new legislation also says Iran will immediately take measures to start producing 20% enriched uranium for peaceful purposes and increase its stockpile of the fissile material, potentially reducing the time Iran needs to make preparations to acquire a weapon. It was promoted by hardliners who opposed the nuclear agreement with the West.

Zarif -- Iran’s lead negotiator on the pact -- said his government did not like the law. “We will implement it because it is the law of the land” but it is not “irreversible,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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