FM Zarif says Biden’s US should seize chance to lift bans

FM Zarif says Biden’s US should seize chance to lift bans

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged US President Joe Biden to end his predecessor’s fruitless pressure policy against Iran and begin the process of rejoining the 2015 nuclear agreement by lifting all unilateral sanctions unconditionally, warning that the “window of opportunity will not be open” for the new White House team forever.

In an op-ed article published Friday by American magazine Foreign Affairs, Zarif said former US President Donald Trump failed to make Iran give in to his demands through his “maximum pressure” campaign that ensued Washington’s withdrawal in May 2018 from the nuclear accord.

The agreement was inked in 2015 between Tehran and six major world states — the US, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia — and was later endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

After abandoning the deal, Washington re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions lifted by the accord and launched a push to fully destroy the agreement by trying to dissuade the remaining signatories from staying in the agreement and threatening sanctions against any party that refuses to cut business ties with Tehran in defiance of American sanctions.

Washington’s pressure successfully blocked the European co-signatories from fulfilling their contractual obligations, a situation that prompted Tehran to retaliate and suspend parts of its own commitments under Article 36 of the deal, formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump, Zarif wrote, “tried to torpedo a major multilateral diplomatic achievement and then initiated a campaign of blunt economic warfare targeting the Iranian people, in effect punishing Iran for its adherence to a UN-endorsed agreement.”

Zarif added that Trump’s pressure policy did create certain hardships for the Iranian nation, “but these hardships have not forced us to surrender, nor have they collapsed our economy or changed our strategic calculus.”

In fact, the hostile campaign has not only failed but has even produced “the exact opposite of its intended result” since it promoted the Islamic Republic to largely strengthen its capabilities in the nuclear industry.

‘A fundamental choice to make’

“The new administration in Washington has a fundamental choice to make. It can embrace the failed policies of the Trump administration and continue down the path of disdain for international cooperation and international law,” Zarid said. “Or the new administration can shed the failed assumptions of the past and seek to promote peace and comity in the region.”

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The top Iranian diplomat advised Biden to take the second option and “choose a better path by ending Trump’s failed policy of “maximum pressure” and returning to the deal his predecessor abandoned.”

Zarif, however, said Washington can return to the deal if it shows it has the “genuine political will” to be a “real partner in collective efforts.”

“International agreements are not revolving doors, after all, and it is not an automatic right to return to a negotiated agreement—and enjoy its privileges—after one simply leaves on a whim,” he wrote.

The Biden administration should begin by “unconditionally removing, with full effect, all sanctions imposed, reimposed, or relabeled since Trump took office…The remaining signatories to the deal would then decide whether the United States should be allowed to reclaim the seat at the table that it abandoned in 2018,” he added.

“Doing so will open new possibilities for peace and stability in our region,” he said.

Zarif assured that Iran would reverse all the remedial measures it has taken after Washington’s exit from the JCPOA when the sanctions are lifted.

 “The window of opportunity for the new US administration will not be open forever. The initiative squarely rests with Washington. The Biden administration’s first step ought to be to seek to redress—rather than attempt to exploit—Trump’s dangerous legacy of maximum failure,” the Iranian minister said.

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‘Regional nations, not Westerners, must solve Mideast issues’

Zarif also warned the US and its European allies in the deal against trying to alter the “painstakingly negotiated terms” and include irrelevant subjects, including Iran’s national defense program and regional activities, in the nuclear deal.

“There cannot be any renegotiations. The United States cannot insist that “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable” and expect to have its way with Iran,” he said.

The Iranian foreign minister says the Islamic Republic always stands ready for talks on the problems gripping the Middle East, but those negotiations should take place among the regional nations, free from Western interference.

“The peoples of the region, not outsiders, must resolve these issues. Neither the United States nor its European allies have the prerogative to lead or sponsor future talks,” he wrote.

Zarif said Iran has put forward several initiatives for peace in the region, the latest of which —the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) — was submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2019.

“Westerners, and especially Americans, need to modify their understanding of Iran and the region if they are to avoid the mistakes they have made chronically in the past. They must observe and respect the sensitivities of the peoples of the region, particularly regarding their national dignity, independence, and achievements,” according to Zarif.

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