Zarif: If sanctions are not lifted next February… Iran will increase uranium enrichment and limit inspection of its nuclear facilities

Iran urged the new US president, Joe Biden, on Friday to “choose a better path” by returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the major powers, but said that the opportunity will be lost if Washington insists on other Iranian concessions in advance.

Washington, under former President Donald Trump, withdrew from the agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and has intensified sanctions on Tehran in an attempt to force it to hold talks on a broader agreement that also addresses its ballistic missile program and its support for proxies in the Middle East.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran would increase uranium enrichment and limit inspections of its nuclear facilities if the sanctions were not lifted next February.

In an article in Foreign Affairs, Zarif said that Biden, who took office on Wednesday, “can start by lifting all the sanctions that have been imposed since Trump took office and work to re-join the 2015 nuclear deal and abide by it without changing its hard-won clauses”.

“On the other hand, Iran will backtrack on all corrective measures it took in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal… the initiative rests with Washington,” Zarif said on Friday.

Since Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018, Iran has violated its basic restrictions one by one, by increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, enriching uranium to a greater level of purity, and using advanced centrifuges.

Biden said the United States would revert to the deal if Iran resumed strict adherence to it.

Zarif said it was not possible to negotiate temporary restrictions on Iranian defense and missile purchases under the 2015 agreement.

He also reiterated his country’s readiness to discuss the problems existing in the Middle East in isolation from nuclear issues.

“But the peoples of the region, not the intruders, should solve these issues,” he said. 

Neither the United States nor its European allies have the right to lead or sponsor future talks”.