Iran's Zarif warns US of 'limited window of opportunity' for new nuclear deal

Iran's Zarif warns US of 'limited window of opportunity' for new nuclear deal
Javad Zarif has called on the US to first remove sanctions on Iran, before it reduces its enrichment activity.
3 min read
02 February, 2021
Iran has steadily increased nuclear activity since US sanctions were imposed. [Getty]
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has insisted said that Tehran is ready to recommit to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - better known as the nuclear deal - but only if the US first removes sanctions on the Islamic Republic. 

In an interview with CNN, the Iranian foreign minister warned that there is a "limited window of opportunity" for a new deal to be agreed.

"The United States has a limited window of opportunity, because President Biden does not want to portray himself as trying to take advantage of the failed policies of the former Trump administration,” said Zarif.

In previous statements, both sides have expressed their desire to see a return to the nuclear deal, but have insisted that the other make the first move.

Since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, Iran has steadily increased its stockpiles of enriched material. Last month, the Fordow nuclear facility enriched uranium to 20 percent purity, well above the 3.67 percent limit outlined in the 2015 deal, but far below the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade material.

Zarif insisted that it was the US and not Iran who breached the terms of the original deal. 

"The United States needs to come back into compliance, and Iran will be ready immediately to respond."

"Eight thousand pounds of enriched uranium can go back to the previous amount in less than a day."

"Iran used the mechanisms in the nuclear agreement in order to limit its cooperation. If you read paragraph 36, we acted in strict accordance with the nuclear agreement," said Zarif, underscoring Iran's compliance.  

On Sunday, US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, warned that at their current rate, Iran could have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, in "a matter of weeks".

Zarif denied this charge, claiming "if we wanted to build a nuclear weapon we could have done it some time ago".

"But we decided that nuclear weapons would not augment our security and are in contradiction to our ideological views. And that is why we never pursued nuclear weapons."

A further sticking point to the resumption of the deal was highlighted on Friday by Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who pointed at Iran's increased ballistic missile capabilities and their activities in the region.

"Their recklessness and sponsorship of terrorism in the region has not abated and in some areas has accelerated as well."

Read more: Why all the mudslinging against Biden's new Iran envoy, Robert Malley?

Zarif made similar accusations of the US, highlighting recent arms deals with Gulf states, who have played a lead in the war in Yemen.

"Is the United States prepared to reduce hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons it is selling to our region? Is the United States prepared to stop the massacre of children in Yemen if it wants to talk about the situation in Yemen?" said Zarif.

With neither side is willing to make the first move, Zarif nominated EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, as a possible figure who could, "choreograph the actions that are needed to be taken by the United States and the actions that are needed to be taken by Iran".

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected