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Iran: lift or waive sanctions UN tells Biden

June 30, 2021 at 2:33 pm

US President Joe Biden in South Carolina, US on 29 August 2019 [Sean Rayford/Getty Images]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appealed to the administration of US President Joe Biden to lift or waive all sanctions on Iran as agreed under the 2015 nuclear deal agreed with Tehran. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a landmark agreement struck by former US President Barack Obama along with France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 as part of his “maximum pressure” policy on Iran.

In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres also urged the US to “extend the waivers with regard to the trade in oil with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects.”

Under the JCPOA, Iran’s compliance was to be rewarded with relief from decades of sanctions imposed by the US and Europe. Washington has used the sanctions waiver as a carrot and stick approach to control Tehran’s behaviour.

The secretary-general’s appeal comes as the 15-member Security Council meets today to discuss his biannual report on the implementation of a 2015 resolution. Guterres also appealed to Iran to return to the full implementation of the deal.

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Following America’s unilateral withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions, Iran has refined uranium up to a purity of roughly 60 per cent, which is far above the limit of 3.6 per cent set out in the JCPOA, and much closer to the 90 per cent suitable for a nuclear weapon. The Islamic Republic maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, and that it could quickly reverse its progress if Washington removes sanctions and returns to the 2015 deal.

“I continue to believe that a full restoration of the Plan remains the best way to ensure that the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran remains exclusively peaceful,” added Guterres.

Iran said on Saturday that it believes a reinstatement of the nuclear deal with major world powers is possible, but warned that it “will not negotiate forever”. The Biden administration has been keen to return to the deal but has insisted that Tehran needs to reverse enrichment to levels agreed when the deal was struck. Tehran maintains that it was the US that broke the agreement and so it has no moral authority to impose any preconditions on Iran.