Iranian diplomat: 'Window is closing' for US to lift sanctions, rejoin nuclear pact

Iranian diplomat: 'Window is closing' for US to lift sanctions, rejoin nuclear pact
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A top Iranian diplomat says the “window is closing” for the U.S. to nix sanctions against the country and rejoin the 2015 nuclear pact.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, told USA Today in an interview published Thursday that President Biden’s administration “must act quickly” before the option is no longer available to return to the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran’s parliament has established a Feb. 21 deadline for the administration to end the sanctions that the Trump administration implemented after leaving the deal in 2018.


"We have said time and again that if the U.S. decides to go back to its international commitments and lift all the illegal sanctions against Iran, we will go back to the full implementation of JCPOA, which will benefit all sides," Takht-Ravanchi said.

He told USA Today that if the deadline passes, Iran would not drive U.N. nuclear inspectors out of the country but will provide less voluntary access to nuclear sites.

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenUS says 'swift' return to Iran deal possible ahead of Vienna talks Blinken: US stands with Ukraine in face of Russian aggression The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE, meanwhile, has said Iran needs to return to complying to the original deal before the U.S. returns. 

"President Biden has been very clear in saying that if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would do the same thing," Blinken told reporters on Wednesday.

Iran confirmed earlier this month that it has resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment, in violation of JCPOA.

Ravanchi, however, called on the U.S. to make the first move and "change course," saying Tehran will not accept a “renegotiation of the nuclear deal.” Iran has accused the U.S. of worsening tensions through the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani last year under Trump and the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which it blames on Israel with U.S. support. 


But U.S. officials say Iran has complicated the relationship with its seizing of cargo ships in the Persian Gulf, support of proxies who have attacked the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and falsely charging Iranian Americans with spying.

"Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts, and it would take some time, should it make a decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance, and for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations,” Blinken told reporters. “So, we're not there yet, to say the least.”

A U.N. report released earlier this month indicated that Iran was taking steps to produce uranium metal, an important component for nuclear weapons, which is also a violation of the pact.

Tehran responded to the report by saying the country plans to develop the metal to “design an improved type of fuel” and has repeatedly denied allegations that it wants to develop nuclear weapons.