Iran’s supreme leader has said the US must lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to return to the nuclear deal with Western powers, state TV has reported.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was designed to ease sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran agreeing to restrictions on its activity to ensure it did not develop a nuclear weapon.
The televised comments are Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s first since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who has said he wants to rejoin the accord, after former president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018.
Mr Trump also imposed unprecedented sanctions on Iran, as part of what he called maximum pressure against the country.
“If they want Iran to return to its commitments, the US must lift all sanctions in practice, then we will do verification and see if the sanctions were lifted correctly, then we will return to our commitments,” Mr Khamenei said.
Iran has threatened to expel UN nuclear inspectors, begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, and ramped up its military drills, including firing cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman last month.
Known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, the 2015 pact was implemented on 16 January 2016 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany).
The JCPOA offers nuclear-related sanctions relief from the US, the EU and the UNSC on Iran in exchange for Iran's elimination of its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, among other things.
Cover image: Iran's supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January (Picture: PA).