Iran’s foreign minister pooh-poohed President Biden’s latest olive branch Saturday — dismissing the end of sanctions on its civilian nuclear program as “not enough” to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“The lifting of some sanctions can in itself translate into good faith,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, according to Iranian state media. “But it’s not enough.”
The State Department notified Congress on Friday that it had restored so-called “civ-nuke” waivers, allowing non-American companies to work on civilian nuclear projects in Iran without drawing retaliation from the US government.
The waivers were halted in 2020 as part of President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, as then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran of “nuclear brinkmanship.”
Their return comes as nuclear talks in Vienna are about to resume — and as the White House has quietly admitted that Iran is just months away from being able to produce enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
“This is not a signal that we are about to reach an understanding on a mutual return to full implementation” of the JCPOA, the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement, a State Department official told NBC News.
Instead, it is a “return to the status quo,” the official said.
But Republicans on Saturday slammed the decision to restore the waivers — despite the lack of any concessions from the Iranian side — as a sign of Biden’s weakness.
“It’s unconscionable,” tweeted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “At a time when Iran is targeting the United States and our allies across the Middle East, the Biden administration is dismantling sanctions to allow them to build up their nuclear program.”
Meanwhile, Iran insisted it will continue its nuclear expansion.
“Iran’s legal right to continue research and development and maintain its peaceful nuclear capabilities and achievements, side by side with its security … cannot be curbed by any agreement,” Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s top security official, tweeted.