Khamenei demands ‘action, not words’ from U.S. to revive nuclear deal

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during ceremony attended by Iranian clerics in Tehran, Iran, July 16, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded “action, not words” from the United States if it wants to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran has accelerated its breaches of its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers in recent months, partly as demanded by a law passed in response to the killing in November of its top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on its foe Israel.

The breaches began in 2019 in response to a U.S. withdrawal from the deal under then-President Donald Trump, and Iran is now locked in a standoff with President Joe Biden’s administration over who should move first to save the accord.

“We have heard many nice words and promises which in practice have been broken and opposite actions have been taken. Words and promises are no good. This time [we want] only action from the other side, and we will also act,” Khamenei said in a televised speech, according to Reuters.

Tehran has set a deadline of next week for Biden to begin reversing sanctions imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump, or Iran will take its biggest step yet to violate the nuclear deal — banning short notice inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Biden aims to restore the pact under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions, a major achievement of the Obama administration abandoned by Trump in 2018.

Tehran and Washington are at odds over who should make the first move to revive the agreement. Iran says the U.S. first must lift Trump’s sanctions, while Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance with the deal.

Iran said it would end snap inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Feb. 23. The inspections are required under a part of the agreement known as the “Additional Protocol.”

European parties to the deal have said that would be a major breach. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played it down on Wednesday, saying ending the snap inspections would not be a “significant step”, as Iran would still comply with core obligations in a so-called Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

“We will end the implementation of the Additional Protocol on Feb. 23 and what will be implemented will be based on the safeguards,” Rouhani said at a televised cabinet meeting. “The Additional Protocol is a step beyond safeguards.”

The IAEA said on Tuesday its Director General Rafael Grossi has offered to visit Tehran to find a “mutually agreeable solution for the agency to continue essential verification activities”. Rouhani said Iran would accept such a visit.

Germany has warned Iran against obstructing IAEA inspections, saying it would be “completely unacceptable” and urging it to desist to give diplomacy a chance, a diplomatic source in Berlin told Reuters on Tuesday.

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