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Iran says US, not Tehran, should act first to resolve nuclear deal row

Nominated Secretary of State Antony Blinken(R) participates as US President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24, 2020. - US President-elect Joe Biden introduced November 24, 2020 a seasoned national security team he said was prepared to resume US leadership of the world after the departure of President Donald Trump. "It's a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure," Biden said, introducing his picks for secretary of state, national security advisor, intelligence chief, and other key cabinet jobs"It's a team that reflects the fact that America is back. Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it," Biden said. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken(R) on November 24, 2020 [CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images]

The United States should act first by returning to world powers' 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that it ditched in 2018, the Iranian foreign minister tweeted on Thursday after Washington demanded Tehran reverse its breaches of the pact first, Reuters reported.

New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed on Wednesday President Joe Biden's policy that Tehran must resume complying with curbs on its nuclear activity under the deal before the United States rejoins the pact abandoned by former president Donald Trump.

"Reality check for @SecBlinken: The US violated JCPOA -blocked food/medicine to Iranians -punished adherence to UNSCR 2231. Throughout that sordid mess, Iran -abided by JCPOA -only took foreseen remedial measures," tweeted Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The JCPOA is the nuclear deal's official acronym, and Zarif was again accusing Washington of having illegally barred humanitarian imports to Iran after Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran, while Tehran had breached limits on uranium enrichment activity only in response to Trump's repudiation of the accord.

"Now," Zarif tweeted, "who should take 1st step? Never forget Trump's maximum failure."

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The 2015 accord lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its disputed nuclear programme but after Trump's withdrawal, Iran violated its conditions in a step-by-step response to Trump's "maximum pressure" policy.

Iran has repeatedly said it can quickly reverse those violations if US sanctions are removed.

In December, Iran's hardline-dominated parliament passed legislation that forces the government to harden its nuclear stance if US sanctions were not eased within two months.

Earlier this month, Iran resumed enriching uranium to 20% fissile strength at its underground Fordow nuclear plant, a level Tehran achieved before the 2015 accord.

It had earlier breached the deal's 3.67% limit on the purity to which it can refine uranium, but it had only gone up to 4.5% so far, well short of the 20% level and of the 90% needed to fuel an atomic bomb.

The new law also obliges Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation to produce 120 kilograms (264.55 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium annually. However, parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said on Thursday Iran had exceeded the timetable by producing more than 17 kilograms within a month.

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