Asked by CBS whether the United States would lift sanctions first to kickstart negotiations with Iran, Biden said, “No.” He then gestured in the affirmative when anchor Norah O’Donnell asked whether Iran would have to stop enriching uranium first.
Under the Obama administration, the United States and a slew of other countries lifted sanctions against Iran in return for caps on certain activities linked to nuclear weapons for 10 to 15 years. Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018, arguing the deal did not “bring calm” or “peace” and that “it never will.”
The Trump administration reimposed harsh sanctions, which remain in place to this day.
Iranian officials last month revealed they had begun advanced uranium enrichment again, violating the 2015 deal, even though European nations remained in the agreement.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will end its final limitations in the nuclear deal, meaning the limitation in the number of centrifuges,” the Iranian regime said at the time. “Therefore Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production including enrichment capacity and percentage and number of enriched uranium and research and expansion.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a recent meeting that Iran “has fulfilled all its obligations” under the 2015 deal and urged the United States to lift sanctions, or else Iran would continue violating the agreement.
Biden while campaigning last year said he would reenter the agreement if he were elected.
“The historic Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside our allies and other world powers, blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump decided to cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, bringing the region to the cusp of another disastrous war,” Biden’s campaign website states.
“If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would reenter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”
Appearing on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Monday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Iran must comply with its obligations under the agreement for the United States to return.
“In recent months, Iran has lifted one restraint after another that was—they were being held in check by the agreement. We got out of the agreement, Iran started to lift the various restraints in the agreement, and the result is they are closer than they’ve been to having the capacity on short order to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon,” he said.
“The agreement had pushed that past a year. According to public reports now, it’s down to three or four months and heading in the wrong direction. So the first thing that’s so critical is for Iran to come back into compliance with its obligations. They’re a ways from that. But if they do that, the path of diplomacy is there, and we’re willing to walk it.