Iran's Rouhani says 'ball in U.S. court' over nuclear dispute

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday called on the new US administration to return to a 2015 nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Tehran as he welcomed the end of the era of “tyrant” President Donald Trump.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on Wednesday, has announced that the United States will re-join the pact, which includes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work, if Tehran resumes strict compliance.

“The ball is now in the US court. If Washington returns to the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015, we will also fully comply with our obligations under the pact,” said Rouhani in a television cabinet meeting.

“Today we expect the new US administration to return to the rule of law and commit itself and over the next four years to fix all the black spots of the past four years,” he said.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have increased since 2018 when Trump canceled the deal between Iran and six world powers that wanted to restrict Tehran’s nuclear program and prevent the development of nuclear weapons. Washington re-imposed sanctions that hit the Iranian economy hard.

Iran, which denies it has ever looked for nuclear weapons, responded to Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy by gradually breaking the agreement. Tehran has repeatedly stated that it can quickly reverse these violations if the US sanctions are lifted.

“Tyrant Trump’s political career and threatening reign are over today and his policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran has completely failed,” said Rouhani. “Trump is dead, but the nuclear deal is still alive.”

Antony Blinken, Biden’s election as foreign minister, said the US would not make a quick decision on whether to rejoin the pact.

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Biden seems to see a return to the deal as a prelude to wider talks on Iran’s nuclear work, ballistic missile and regional activities. However, Tehran has ruled out suspending its missile program or changing its regional policy.

Biden’s decision to run the Pentagon, retired Army General Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that Iran posed a threat to American allies in the region and forces stationed in the Middle East.

“The United States and other Western countries have turned our region into a powder keg, not Iran,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state television.

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