Iran Says U.S. Must Lift Sanctions Before Nuclear Deal Talks

Iran said the U.S. must first return to the 2015 nuclear deal and lift sanctions if it wants to start talks with the Islamic Republic, appearing to snub an effort by the Biden administration to begin direct discussions before officially rejoining the accord.

The “key sequence” for nuclear talks between the Iran and U.S. is commitment, action then a meeting, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in tweet.

The reaction — and a similar comment from Iran’s foreign minister — highlighted the challenges in ending an impasse that has threatened to tip the Persian Gulf region into a new conflict in the years since former President Donald Trump exited the 2015 deal and reimposed sanctions.

On Thursday, the Biden administration said it would be willing to meet with Iran to discuss a “diplomatic way forward” in efforts to return to the nuclear deal, a first step toward easing tensions.

The offer is a politically risky effort by President Joe Biden to move beyond the standoff after the slew of U.S. sanctions cratered Iran’s economy and infuriated other world leaders, who argued that the accord and the inspections regime it created had reined in Tehran’s nuclear program.

European parties to the nuclear deal welcomed the U.S. overture.

The offer to hold talks was aimed at restoring a diplomatic pathway with Iran, which has been gradually abandoning its commitments under the nuclear deal in response to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign.

U.S. and European officials are particularly alarmed by Iran’s decision to stop letting the International Atomic Energy Agency conduct snap inspections by suspending the so-called Additional Protocol from Feb. 23.

U.S. Says It’s Willing to Meet With Iran to Restore Nuclear Deal

Story Link: Iran Says U.S. Sanctions Relief Key Before Nuclear Deal Talks

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