Despite Joe Biden's prior promises on the campaign trail to immediately restore US participation in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) brokered under Obama, it's now looking to be effectively in tatters merely less than a month into his administration.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a 'final ultimatum' on Sunday, demanding the US remove all sanctions that were enacted by Trump prior to the Islamic Republic returning to compliance.
"Iran has fulfilled all its obligations under the deal, not the United States and the three European countries," Khamenei said, according as cited in Reuters. "If they want Iran to return to its commitments, the United States must in practice... lift all sanctions."
Iranian state media is widely describing it as the country's "final word" on the deal. Given that previously Biden's top foreign policy advisers as well as press secretary definitively stated that Iran must return to compliance first, most especially when it comes to uranium enrichment caps, the developing stalemate looks to increasingly point toward Washington staying on the sidelines, while keeping sanctions to the max - a continuation of Trump's 'maximum pressure'.
Khamenei affirmed the prior position of top Iranian leaders, including President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, that it is for the US to move first since it was the one which backed out. He said further in his statement speaking of the US administration, "The side with the right to set conditions to JCPOA is Iran since it abided by all its commitments, not US or 3 European countries who breached theirs."
It comes on the heels of Biden saying in a CBS interview that the US won't budge until Iran returns to compliance first:
And so it continues. Hours after #Iran's Supreme Leader says Iran will only return to its JCPOA commitments AFTER the US lifts sanctions, @CBS releases this: a video of US president Joe Biden saying the US will not lift the sanctions before Iran is back in full compliance. #oott pic.twitter.com/sknoLiPsSk— Nader Itayim | نادر ایتیّم (@ncitayim) February 7, 2021
As WSJ recaps of the latest interview which will air in full just ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday evening:
Asked by CBS News whether the U.S. will lift sanctions to convince Iran to participate in negotiations, Mr. Biden said, “No.” When CBS asked whether Iran must stop enriching uranium first, Mr. Biden nodded.
Also on Sunday the Supreme Leader took to twitter to opine about the 'decline' of the American empire...
One should know the US properly. Their recent events were a fiasco. #Trump’s fall wasn't just the fall of an unfit president. It was the decline of US power & social order. Speaking of US’s decline from within & the start of a post-US era are the words of US experts, not ours.— Khamenei.ir 🇮🇷 (@khamenei_ir) February 7, 2021
"If they want Iran to go back to its JCPOA commitments, the U.S. must practically end all sanctions. We will verify if it has been done properly. If yes, we will go back to our JCPOA commitments," Iran's Supreme Leader said further.
Khamenei then issued the following ominous prediction:
The post-U.S. era has started.— Khamenei.ir 🇮🇷 (@khamenei_ir) February 7, 2021
While during his last weeks in office Trump had ramped up the pressure campaign on the Islamic Republic, Iranian authorities defiantly announced they had taken uranium enrichment to 20%, installed more advanced centrifuges, and advanced its capability to produce uranium metal crucial for nuclear warhead development (though Tehran has long maintained all of this is toward peaceful domestic energy purposes).
Meanwhile with Washington and Tehran are now telling each other, "you first" in terms of who acts to reverse measures, the nuclear looks to effectively remain dead with the sanctions status quo remaining in effect for the foreseeable future.