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US must fix 'wrong path' before Biden seeks new nuclear deal, Iran says

Removal of all Trump-era sanctions levied at Iran remains one of its main conditions regarding any future deals with US under President-elect Joe Biden
Iran's head of Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, speaking on-screen at 64th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on 21 September (AFP/File photo)

US President-elect Joe Biden should not expect Iran to sign onto a new nuclear deal without taking several steps to correct America’s "wrong path", a spokesperson with Tehran's foreign ministry has said. 

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Saeed Khatibzadeh said "before anything can happen" in terms of healing the US-Iran relationship, the administration would need to make some "important changes". 

President Donald Trump withdrew from the Obama-era nuclear accords in 2018 and proceeded to initiate a "maximum pressure" campaign that saw the reinstatement of even more crippling sanctions. 

Biden, who defeated Trump at the ballot box last week, said during campaigning that he plans to embark on a “credible path to return to diplomacy” with Iran and raised the possibility of returning to the nuclear deal.

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Iran's foreign ministry said on Monday that there was still enough time for the United States to turn back from this wrong path, but that some "important changes … must come to be before anything can happen".

"We will certainly look closely at the actions and words of the next US administration," Khatibzadeh said.

Firstly, Iran wants to see "change in the thought and mentality of US decision-makers, change in words and speech and the type of speech with the world and Iran, and (taking) correct actions, turning back from the wrong path and making up for the past," he continued. 

Khatibzadeh denied Iran has had any contact with the incoming US administration and said Tehran would observe their actions rather than words.

“First, a government must be formed in the US and then take its own actions and we observe it,” he said.

New sanctions until inauguration

It was made known on Monday that President Trump's outgoing administration plans to impose new sanctions on Iran every week until Biden's inauguration in January, Axios reported, citing Israeli sources.

The State Department's special representative for Iran and Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, is in Israel where he has already met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to discuss the plans, according to the news agency.

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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that the result of the 3 November presidential election in the United States would have "no effect" on Tehran’s policies towards Washington.

Previously, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said that Iran would not be pressured into renegotiating a new nuclear deal and that it would adhere to compliance only if the US lifts all sanctions. This message was directed not at Biden or Trump, but the country at large.

On Sunday, Zarif tweeted concerning Trump's electoral loss, saying "Betting on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble".

"We extend our hand to our neighbors for dialogue to resolve differences," he continued. "Only together can we build a better future for all." 

Remaining signatories that have been trying to salvage the nuclear deal include France, Russia, Britain, Germany and China.