U.S. must undo damage to nuclear deal, Iran's foreign minister says

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Iran’s foreign minister said on Sunday that if the U.S. wanted to restore the terms of the nuclear agreement it exited, the onus was on the Biden administration to live up to the deal.

“It was the United States that left the deal,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “It was the United States that violated the deal. It was the United States that punished any country that remained respectful and compliant with the deal. So it is for the United States to return to the deal, to implement its obligations.”

In 2018, President Donald Trump exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, claiming that Iran was not living up to its obligations. At issue since then is whether the U.S. left the deal because Iran was at fault, or whether Iran stopped honoring the terms of the agreement because the U.S. exited the deal.

The agreement with Iran was signed in 2015 by the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union; it was intended to guarantee that Iran would be unable to develop nuclear weapons — and have no incentive to do so. Trump, when announcing the U.S. was leaving, said, “This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.” He then restored sanctions against Iran that had been lifted by the Obama administration when the agreement was reached, and worked to isolate Iran internationally.

Zarif’s comments on Sunday echoed those of the state’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who stated earlier in the day that the U.S. must lift all sanctions against the country if it wanted Iran to fully honor the agreement.

President Joe Biden, who was vice president when the deal was negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry, has put the onus on Iran to get the ball rolling, stating that the country must stop enriching uranium if it wants the U.S. to return to the deal. But Zarif was emphatic that the onus was on the U.S. to correct its behavior, not on Iran to prove worthy of the deal.

“The way to go back to full compliance on the part of Iran is for the United States, which has totally left the deal, to come back and implement its obligations,” Zarif said on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “Now, it’s clear it’s a decision that President Biden and his advisers need to take. Whether they want to break with the failed policies of President Trump or whether they want to build on his failures. If they want to build on his failures, they will only get failure as a result.”

Iran’s foreign minister also said his country would refuse to consider negotiating a different deal or adding other elements to the agreement.

“The entire nuclear deal is nonnegotiable because it was fully negotiated,” Zarif said. “We need to implement something that we negotiated. We do not buy the horse twice.”

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