Iran hesitant to see US return to nuclear deal

Iran in no rush to see US return to nuclear deal: Khamenei
2 min read
Khamenei is not insisting the return of the US to the nuclear deal, especially given its decision to increase its uranium enrichment.
Khamenei insists on US lifting sanctions [Getty]

Iran is in no hurry to see the US return to a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers after Joe Biden takes office this month, its supreme leader said Friday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said it was not a question of "whether the United States returns or not", it was a matter of it lifting its unilateral sanctions.

"We are in no rush and we are not insisting on their return. Our demand... is the lifting of sanctions," which outgoing US President Donald Trump reimposed after quitting the deal in 2018.

This comes as Iran has been enriching its uraniaum to 20 per cent - far higher than the numbers agreed upon in the 2015 nuclear and a point of growing alarm for the US and Europe.

Germany, France and Britain on Wednesday said they were "deeply concerned" about Iran's move to step up its uranium enrichment, warning of "very significant" risks.

Tehran on Tuesday said it was now refining uranium to 20 percent purity, the biggest break yet from its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers.

"This action, which has no credible civil justification and carries very significant proliferation-related risks, is in clear violation of Iran's commitments" under the pact, the European trio said in a statement.

"We strongly urge Iran to stop enriching uranium to up to 20 percent without delay," they added.

Iran's increased uranium enrichment has triggered international concern because it is seen as a significant step towards the 90 percent level required for a nuclear weapon.

The landmark 2015 deal agreed between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany has been fraying since President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions.

The Iranian government has signalled a readiness to engage with US President-elect Joe Biden, who has expressed willingness to return to diplomacy with Tehran and who takes office on January 20.

The three European signatories to the deal, known as E3, cautioned in their statement that Tehran's latest move "risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US administration".

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