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Biden Won't Lift Sanctions to Revive Iran Negotiations

He indicated that the country must stop enriching uranium first
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2021 5:40 PM CST

(Newser) – “No.” That’s President Joe Biden’s response to a question on whether he’d lift economic sanctions on Iran to get the country back to the negotiating table for the Iran Nuclear deal. Speaking to CBS News, Biden indicated that Iran would need to stop enriching uranium first. There’s some ambiguity there—as the Guardian notes, Iran is permitted to enrich uranium within certain limits under the 2015 nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. Last month, Iran announced that it had resumed enriching uranium to 20%, the BBC reports, far above the 3.67% cap established by the nuclear deal. Weapons grade uranium is enriched to 90%. On Sunday, Iran’s supreme leader urged the US to remove the sanctions, the AP reports.

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“If [the US] wants Iran to return to its commitments, it must lift all sanctions in practice, then we will do verification … then we will return to our commitments,” Iran state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying. Following the December killing of the Iranian scientist behind the country's disbanded military nuclear program, lawmakers in Iran approved a law to block international nuclear inspectors. In his interview with CBS News, which was taped Friday to air on Sunday, Biden also talked about US relations with China, saying, that the US doesn’t need to have a conflict with Beijing, “but there’s going to be extreme competition.” Biden said he hadn’t “had occasion” to speak to Chinese leader Xi Jinping yet since Biden became president. (Read more Iran nuclear weapons program stories.)

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