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US policies on Iran nuclear deal ‘contradictory,’ Tehran charges

Biden has sought to restore the pact abandoned by Trump, while refusing to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic

US President Joe Biden, left, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on June 25, 2022; Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, right, in a session of parliament in Tehran on August 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File); (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
US President Joe Biden, left, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on June 25, 2022; Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, right, in a session of parliament in Tehran on August 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File); (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran hit out Tuesday at what it called Washington’s “contradictory” policies, after US President Joe Biden vowed to pile pressure on Iran ahead of a visit to US allies in the Middle East.

Biden has been seeking to restore the Iran nuclear deal that was abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump, but he has refused to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic until it returns to compliance with the accord.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post ahead of his visit this week to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Biden pointed to the “rapid acceleration” of Iran’s nuclear program after Trump “reneged on a nuclear deal that was working.”

“My administration will continue to increase diplomatic and economic pressure until Iran is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, as I remain prepared to do,” Biden wrote on Saturday.

Iran on Tuesday blasted the Biden administration for what it said was an inconsistent approach on the nuclear issue.

“Mr. Joe Biden’s emphasis on pursuing the policy of economic and diplomatic pressure against Iran is contradictory to US continued expression of desire to revive the 2015 agreement,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

The current US government “despite its slogans and claims of returning to the agreement… follows the same approach (of the previous administration) with the continuation of sanctions and economic pressure,” he said.

Exterior view of the ‘Grand Hotel Wien’ in Vienna, Austria, on April 9, 2021, where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter)

The Biden administration has been engaged in talks since April 2021 aimed at returning the US to the nuclear deal, including through the lifting of sanctions on Iran and ensuring Tehran’s full compliance with its commitments.

But the on-off negotiations held in the Austrian capital Vienna have stalled since March with several different unresolved issues remaining between the US and Iran.

In late June, Qatar hosted indirect talks between the US and Iran in a bid to get the Vienna process back on track, but those discussions broke up after two days without a breakthrough.

In his opinion piece, Biden wrote that his trip also aimed to “work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world.”

Biden’s remarks were dismissed by Iran’s Kanani as “a one-sided and unrealistic account of the US government’s policies in the West Asia region.”

The spokesman stressed that if the US officials wanted “stability and security in the West Asia region… they should understand the new realities of the world and avoid trying to impose American values and unilateralism.”

The US needed to “allow the countries of the region to act based on their values, interests and realities and within the framework of regional cooperation to ensure their security and collective interests,” Kanani added.

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