Washington: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday said that Iran is ready for a new relationship with the US -- but the clock is ticking, reported CNN.
In an interview with CNN, Zarif said the Biden administration has a "limited window of opportunity" to re-enter the 2015 nuclear agreement.
"The time for the United States to come back to the nuclear agreement is not unlimited. 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," he said.
The Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran - known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 after Tehran breached the uranium enrichment obligations.
Last month, the Iranian regime announced that it had resumed enriching uranium up to 20 per cent purity at its Fordow nuclear facility -- far above the 3.67 per cent cap imposed by the 2015 pact, though still short of the 90 per cent that is considered weapons-grade, reported CNN.
Meanwhile, Iran has made clear that any agreement now with the Biden administration will be contingent on a reversal of the harsh economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
In December, the hardliner-dominated Iranian Parliament passed legislation obligating the government to further ramp up uranium enrichment, if American sanctions are not eased within two months of the law's adaptation.
Asked just how swiftly Iran could scale back its uranium enrichment program to comply with the nuclear deal if the US lifts sanctions, Zarif said, "8,000 pounds of enriched uranium can go back to the previous amount in less than a day." Tehran has on many occasions has publicly insisted that it does not seek a nuclear weapon, a stance that Zarif reiterated on Monday's interview with CNN.
"If we wanted to build a nuclear weapon we could have done it some time ago," he said. "But we decided that nuclear weapons are not, would not augment our security and are in contradiction to our, eh, ideological views. And that is why we never pursued nuclear weapons," he added.
The main issue related to the nuclear deal was that it did not protect the neighbouring countries from non-nuclear threats by Iran, and did not deter Tehran from funding militias in countries like Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been locked in a bloody war against a Saudi and UAE-led coalition, reported CNN.
Zarif negated the allegations and said that Iran has acted in accordance with dispute mechanisms written into the JCPOA, since the US withdrawal. "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," he said.
He called on the Biden administration to stick to the original conditions of the nuclear deal.
"The United States has to accept what we agreed upon," Zarif also said. "We decided not to agree on certain things, not because we neglected them, but because the United States and its allies were not prepared to do what was necessary." According to Zarif, the question over who must take the first step in returning to the JCPOA could be resolved EU by foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, reported CNN.
Borrell could put his "hat on" as coordinator for the Joint Commission of the JCPOA "and sort of choreograph the actions that are needed to be taken by the United States and the actions that are needed to be taken by Iran," he said.