Moscow and Tehran say Joe Biden's administration must lift sanctions and comply with 2015 nuclear deal as condition for Tehran to rejoin accord.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow on January 26, 2021.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow on January 26, 2021. (AFP)

Russia has said that the United States must lift sanctions against Tehran and comply with the Iran nuclear deal as a condition for the Islamic republic to rejoin the accord.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday that he hoped that "the United States returns to full compliance with the corresponding Security Council resolution, creating conditions for Iran to meet its obligations under the nuclear deal."

Ahead of talks, Lavrov said that "one of the most pressing topics is the task of rescuing the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA)."

Russian and Iranian foreign ministers had their first meeting in the Russian capital since the change of power in the US.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif echoed Russia's position, saying that if Washington lifts sanctions on Iran, "we will return to the full implementation of our obligations" under the agreement.

READ MORE: Iran’s hardliners reluctantly support the nuclear deal for now

Deal in limbo

The Iran nuclear deal was agreed in 2015 between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany.

It offered sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear ambitions and guarantees it would not seek an atomic bomb.

The agreement largely fell apart after former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and ordered officials to reimpose tough penalties against Tehran as part of his administration's "maximum pressure" policy.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have steadily increased. 

Trump policies 

During Trump's final days as president, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the US has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, and a nuclear submarine into the region.

Iran has also increased its military drills, including firing cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman this month.

Iran has a missile capability of up to 2,000 km, far enough to reach archenemy Israel and US military bases in the region. 

Last January, after the US killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of American soldiers.

However, Trump's defeat to Joe Biden has raised the prospect of a US return to the deal.

Washington has suggested it is prepared to rejoin the accord and President Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, said at a Senate confirmation hearing this month that Trump's policies had made Iran "more dangerous."

READ MORE: If the Iran nuclear deal can be saved, there is no time left to waste

France says Iran must comply with deal first

The Iranian government must comply with the terms of the 2015 accord in order to see the US return to the deal, a French presidency official said on Tuesday.

"If they are serious about negotiations and want to obtain a new commitment from all participants in the JCPOA, first they must refrain from further provocations and second they must respect what they are no longer respecting" in terms of commitments, the official said on condition of anonymity.

READ MORE: Anger in Iran as its nuclear scientist is assassinated amid global silence

Source: AFP