Donald Trump ‘may engage in warfare with Iran’ warns expert
Mr Biden will formally take over the White House on Wednesday and has the task of rebuilding relations with Tehran, which have spiralled during the Presidency of Donald Trump. Diplomatic ties between the two sides have been on the brink ever since Mr Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 – which granted Tehran sanction relief in return for curbing its nuclear programme.
Tehran and Washington were also on the brink of war in January 2020, following the killing of Qassem Soleimani, major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Officials in Iran have repeatedly called on the US to rejoin the nuclear treaty, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Mr Biden has previously signalled he would be willing to sign back up to the deal put in place by the Barack Obama administration in 2015.
Ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration, Mahmoud Vaezi, chief of staff to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, said Tehran is “serious” about going back to how things were before Mr Trump became Commander in Chief.
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He said: “What we say is that whatever has happened under Trump’s administration must go back to the pre-Trump era.
“We are serious about it.”
After pulling out of the deal, the US imposed heavy financial sanctions on exports and crippled the Iranian economy.
Shahriar Heydari, the deputy head of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, described the measures as “cruel” and hit out European leaders for not putting more pressure on the US.
Speaking on Sunday, he said: “If the cruel sanctions that were imposed on the Iranian nation under Trump are not to be lifted, the JCPOA will certainly be a loss for Iran.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran fulfilled these obligations, but the US withdrew from this international agreement, and the Europeans did not fulfil their obligations under the pressure of the White House.”
Mr Heydari added this brought the agreement “close to destruction” and warned US officials should not attempt to “buy more time” with negotiations before lifting the sanctions.
The President-elect has previously said returning to the Iran nuclear deal would be “a starting point for follow-on negotiations”, but warned there would be consequences if Iran took a hostile approach.
Writing for CNN last September, Mr Biden added: “If Iran chooses confrontation, I am prepared to defend our vital interests and our troops.
“But, I am ready to walk the path of diplomacy if Iran takes steps to show it is ready too.”
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Over the weekend, European powers warned Iran against starting work on uranium metal-based fuel for research reactors.
In a joint statement by the UK, France and Germany, they warned the move could breach the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has since dismissed the accusation and branded it “absurd nonsense”.
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