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Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran’s new foreign minister said Friday the country will return to nuclear negotiations “very soon,” but accused the Biden administration of sending contradictory messages — saying it wants to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal while slapping new sanctions on Tehran and not taking “an iota of positive action.”
Hossain Amir Abdollah said the government, which took power last month, believes that President Joe Biden “keeps carrying close to his heart the thick file of the Trump sanctions against Iran, even while seemingly pursuing negotiations.”
Former President Donald Trump routinely denounced the nuclear accord as the “worst deal ever negotiated” and withdrew from the agreement in 2018 after an ill-fated attempt to bring the other parties — Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran — on board with additional restrictions. After withdrawing, Trump embarked on what he called a “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, re-imposing all the U.S. sanctions that had been eased under the deal and adding penalties.
WATCH: 2021 United Nations General Assembly – Day 4
In a media briefing on Iran’s new foreign policy, Amir Abdollah was very skeptical about the Biden administration’s real intentions, stressing that actions are more important than “empty but beautiful words,” and so is “the comportment” and “behavior” of the United States toward Iran.
Iran’s top diplomat sharply criticized additional sanctions imposed by the Biden administration, as well as its refusal to give a green light for Iran to access millions of dollars of its money frozen in South Korea and Japanese banks to buy COVID-19 vaccines and medicine, and suddenly asking Britain to stop payment of 42-year-old debts.
Recalling that Iranians have a long, rich history and ancient civilization behind them, Amir Abdollah said “the United States of America must speak with a civilized tone and tongue with the people of Iran, not the language of threats, of pressure and sanctions.” The past 42 years, since the Iranian revolution, have “made clear the language of threats will not work against the great people of Iran.”
Biden and his team have made a U.S. return to the deal one of their top foreign policy priorities. The deal was one of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements, one that aides now serving in the Biden administration had helped negotiate and that Trump tried to dismantle.
The Biden administration implored Iran on Thursday to quickly return to talks on its nuclear program, which were suspended in June ahead of the Iranian elections, warning that the window for negotiations may soon close.
A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on condition that he not be identified by name, said U.S. patience is wearing thin and that further delays while Iran continues to expand its nuclear capabilities, including enriching uranium to higher levels, could lead Washington and its partners to conclude a return to the landmark nuclear deal is no longer worthwhile.
Amir Abdollah said the new government is reviewing the files of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna and will return to the talks because constructive negotiations can lead to “tangible, verifiable results.”
The foreign minister said Iran’s expectations are that all parties return to the Vienna negotiations and then fulfill their commitments under the 2015 agreement in a verifiable way.
Amir Abdollah stressed that the United States “should take action — constructive action, measurable action.”
“Have no doubt,” he said, “that if they wish to continue their previous language towards Iran and previous comportment towards Iran, the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not remain tied.”
Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.
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