Iran says U.S. has ‘very small’ window to rejoin 2015 nuclear deal

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Jan. 26 (UPI) — Iran said Tuesday that the United States under President Joe Biden will only have a limited window of opportunity to rejoin the landmark 2015 nuclear deal — which is something Biden has said he intends to do.

The accord, formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed under former President Barack Obama as a measure to limit Tehran’s nuclear activities to peaceful endeavors in the laboratory in exchange for sanctions relief. Former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, calling it a “bad deal.”

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Iranian officials said Tuesday they welcome a U.S. return, but said the window won’t be open indefinitely.

“At present, we have had no dialog or contact with the new U.S. administration and we are still waiting for the official positions … on this country’s return to its obligations,” spokesman Ali Rabiei said via Iran’s state-run PressTV.

“Of course, the United States will not have time forever, and the window of opportunity is very small.”

Rabiei added that lifting new U.S. sanctions on Iran, which were imposed by Trump after the U.S. withdrawal, is an “inseparable” part of any deal to rejoin the pact.

Russia, a top Iranian ally, also said Tuesday that Moscow would welcome the United States back to the JCPOA.

The deal was struck nearly six years ago among Iran, the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China. In addition to limiting Iranian nuclear activities, it also thawed U.S. sanctions against Tehran that had hampered its economy for years.

Since the United States withdrew, Iran has periodically violated parts of the agreement and the other parties to the deal have questioned whether the accord can be salvaged.

The Trump administration’s relationship with Iran deteriorated further after a U.S. drone strike killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani a year ago and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist, was assassinated last November.

Tehran said earlier this month it plans to increase uranium enrichment by 20%, well above the limit allowed by the JCPOA.

Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken said during his Senate confirmation hearing that Iran’s nuclear weapons program would have to put “back in the box” before any deal is possible.

“If Iran comes back into compliance we would, too,” he said. “But we would use that as a platform with our allies and partners, who would once again be on the same side with us, to seek a longer and stronger agreement.”