Iranian FM urges Biden to end ‘rogue’ US behaviour

Published December 4, 2020
Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday urged US president-elect Joe Biden to abandon Washington’s “rogue” behaviour. — AFP/File
Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday urged US president-elect Joe Biden to abandon Washington’s “rogue” behaviour. — AFP/File

ROME: Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday urged US president-elect Joe Biden to abandon Washington’s “rogue” behaviour and lift crippling sanctions on his country, rejecting talk of renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said that when President Donald Trump left the landmark agreement, the United States had breached a UN Security Council resolution endorsing it.

“The US has been in grave breach of that resolution because the Trump administration has been a rogue regime,” Zarif said in an online interview held as part of the Mediterranean Dialogues event, hosted by Italy.

“Now if President-elect Biden wants to continue to be a rogue regime, then he can continue to be asking for negotiations to implement its commitments,” he added.

“The United States must stop, the United States must cease its violations of international law. It doesn’t require any negotiations.” Decades old US-Iranian tensions escalated after Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed, then toughened, sanctions that have hammered Iran’s economy.

Biden has signalled he will return the US to the deal, which offered Tehran relief from international sanctions in exchange for guarantees, verified by the United Nations, that its nuclear programme has no military aims.

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued veiled criticism of Biden as he marked the 84th birthday of Iranian-American Mohammad Bagher Namazi, who along with his businessman son and at least one other US citizen remains in prison on vague security charges.

“There should be no deals with Iran until these men are released,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

Biden told The New York Times this week that if Iran returned to compliance, the US would rejoin, after which he would seek to tighten Iran’s nuclear constraints and address concerns about both its missile programme and Iran’s support for militants in the region.

But Zarif said: “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated.”

And he added that Western powers should look to their own behaviour before criticising Iran.

“Last year the West sold to the Persian Gulf more weapons than it sold to any other part of the world. Over $100 billion worth of weapons were sold to this region. Is the West ready to stop this malign behaviour?” Zarif said.

He also complained at what he characterised as a lack of European outrage at the assassination of one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran last week — an attack that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2020

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