Feb 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration at standstill with Iran over nuclear talks

Photo by IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran on July 31, 2020. Photo: IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER PRESS OFFICE / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden told "CBS Evening News" in an interview set to air Sunday that the U.S. will not lift sanctions against Iran unless the country first stops enriching uranium.

Driving the news: The comments were revealed hours after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address that the U.S. must first lift all sanctions for Iran to comply with the commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, which President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018.

What they're saying: “If [the U.S.] 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,” Khamenei said.

  • “This is the definitive and irreversible policy of the Islamic Republic, and all of the country’s officials are unanimous on this, and no one will deviate from it."

The other side: "No," Biden responded when host Norah O'Donnell asked if the U.S. will lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table. The president nodded affirmatively when asked if Iran will first have to stop enriching uranium.

The state of play: Iran has begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels. Its parliament recently approved a law to block international nuclear inspectors, per the AP.

  • The Iranian military on Saturday also opened a plant to produce hybrid solid fuel and a factory to build shoulder-fired rockets, state TV reported.

The backdrop: Biden has said he would seek to implement expanded restrictions on Iran's missile development and regional activities.

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