Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the US should act quickly to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, and warned that the upcoming June elections in Iran could slow Tehran’s ability to make policy changes.
“A lame duck government will not be able to do anything serious. And then we will have a waiting period of almost six months. We will not have a government before September,” Zarif told the European Policy Centre think-tank on Monday.
“A lot of things can happen between now and September. So, it is advisable for the United States to move fast,” Zarif said.
In an interview last week, President Biden’s Iran envoy Robert Malley said Iran’s elections were not a factor for the US. “We won’t rush or slow things because of the Iranian elections,” he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the JCPOA, is not up for reelection in June. He is expected to be replaced with a more hardline president who may not be as patient with the US as Rouhani.
But even the hardline Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has made it clear that Tehran is ready to return to the limits set by the JCPOA once the US lifts sanctions. So no matter who wins in June, the US will still be able to revive the JCPOA by giving Iran sanctions relief.
Zarif reiterated Tehran’s stance on Monday. “We are ready to go back immediately, after the United States goes back to implementation of the deal. That’s as simple as that,” he said. “We don’t see any reason for talks; we can go immediately to implementation and then have talks.”
The fact that President Biden is demanding talks with Iran before giving sanctions relief means he is pursuing the same policy as his predecessor, something Zarif pointed out. “Up until now, this administration has done nothing different from the Trump administration,” he said.