Pres. Rouhani to Johnson: Lifting of US sanctions only diplomatic option available

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the US must honor its commitments and lift sanctions on Iran if it seeks a diplomatic end to the stalemate surrounding the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement.

In a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, Rouhani explained that all of Iran’s measures have been taken within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the aim of bringing a state of equilibrium to the deal in order to preserve it, making a reference to Iran’s reduction of its commitments under the agreement in response to the US withdrawal and harsh sanctions.

“If we are after diplomacy, the path is clear… It’s the lifting of sanctions and the US fulfilling of its commitments, and there is no other option,” Rouhani said during a call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Rouhani laid out the country’s unwavering policy as an “action-for-action” approach with regard to commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that “Iran cannot and should not be the only party paying the price of preserving the JCPOA.”

He said while the new US administration has voiced willingness to rejoin the nuclear deal and implement its commitments, it has failed to take any practical measure whatsoever.

Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal was unilaterally abandoned by the US under former President Donald Trump in 2018. President Joe Biden has promised to re-enter the JCPOA, which was struck in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

The Biden administration has also called for negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA, saying they wish to “lengthen and strengthen the deal”, and use the JCPOA as a platform to “negotiate follow-on agreements” – all of which have been dismissed by Tehran as long as the US refuses to rejoin the pact and fulfill its obligations, which include lifting of sanctions on Iran.

Biden administration officials have tried to press Tehran into choosing the path of “diplomacy” by taking the initiative in returning to full compliance with the JCPOA and agreeing to talks with the US on the deal and other issues.