- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A top Iranian diplomat says the Biden administration must make the first move, likely by lifting sanctions if it wants to breathe new life into the mangled 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Echoing the withdrawn posture other high-level Iranian officials have taken in recent weeks, the Islamic republic’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said, “It’s up to the U.S. to decide what course of action to take” because Tehran is “not in a hurry.”

Mr. Ravanchi made the comments in an interview with NBC News that aired Monday night amid expectations that the Biden administration is poised to try and reenter the Obama era nuclear deal that former President Trump pulled the United States out of in 2018.

President Biden signaled during last year’s campaign that he wants to pursue talks with Iran toward rebuilding the accord, which had eased international sanction on Tehran in exchange for limits to, and U.N. inspections of, Iranian nuclear activities. The U.S. has unilaterally reimposed sanctions since pulling out of the accord. Other signatories, including European nations and China and Russia, have expressed frustration at the American moves.

While Mr. Biden’s overtures hang as a backdrop, Iran itself has taken steps to pull out of the nuclear accord since the 2018 U.S. withdrawal, ramping up nuclear enrichment activities that violate limits set by the Obama-era deal.

NBC News noted Monday that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has previously said Tehran is not prepared to offer goodwill gestures or confidence-building steps until the U.S. returns to the nuclear deal.

Mr. Ravanchi, meanwhile, said there have thus far been no conversations between Iranian and American officials since Mr. Biden’s inauguration last week.

“We’re not planning to initiate anything,” he told the network when asked if plans are in the works to open direct dialogue with the administration or indirect communication through an intermediary.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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