Middle east

‘Before Spouting Off, COMPLY’: Iran’s Zarif Says US Can’t Criticize Tehran After Leaving JCPOA

Later this month, Iran’s nuclear program will be compelled by a December 2020 law passed by the Majles (Iranian parliament) to further increase its uranium refining if the US does not return to the 2015 nuclear deal, as US President Joe Biden has previously said it is necessary to ensure regional stability.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back at US criticism of Iran’s uranium refining on Thursday, saying Washington has no grounds to criticize their adherence to a deal that the US left in 2018.

“Biden administration officials keep talking about Iran’s compliance with JCPOA,” Zarif tweeted on Thursday. “In what capacity? US ceased participation in May 2018, violated JCPOA & punished those complying with UN resolution.”

“As of today, US remains in EXACTLY same position. Before spouting off, COMPLY,” the diplomat urged.

Zarif’s words come as the Biden administration’s position has become that Iran must return to the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) before Washington does.

In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal, claiming without evidence that Iran was in violation for the terms. The deal put strict limits on Iran’s uranium production quantity and purity in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions strangling the Iranian economy. With the US out, the Trump administration reapplied the sanctions, and Iran pressed the other parties in the deal – the UK, France, Germany, European Union, Russia, and China – for relief from the US moves. Instead, the US successfully pressured its allies into following US sanctions.

In response, Tehran began to back away from its commitments under the deal, increasing the quantity and quality of its uranium, with the most recent move being the smithing of uranium metal, albeit at nowhere near the purity necessary to make an atomic bomb.

On Wednesday, the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Zarif noted that “Seven consecutive US presidents have bet on the myth that Iran can be forced to choose between collapse & submission. They all lost the wager, as 42 yrs after the Islamic Revolution, we still stand strong.” 

​Zarif urged that “With a new administration in Washington there is an opportunity to try a new approach. But the current window is fleeting.”

Some partners, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have advocated for negotiating an expanded JCPOA to include Saudi Arabia and Israel, as well as stronger limits on Iran, but Tehran has rejected the suggestion, saying all parties agreed on the deal as it was negotiated in 2015.

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