Iran: US must lift sanctions before it lives up to nuke deal

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader says the U.S. must lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to return to its commitments to the nuclear deal with Western powers, state TV reported Sunday.

The televised comments mark Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's first since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who has said he wants to rejoin the accord.

Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the dedal in 2018.

“If they want Iran to return to its commitments, the U.S. must lift all sanctions in practice, then we will do verification and see if the sanctions were lifted correctly, then we will return to our commitments,” Khamenei said.

Iran has threatened to expel nuclear inspections later this month, begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels and ramped up its military drills, including firing cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman last month.

Tensions have escalated between Iran and the U.S. as Tehran seeks to quickly pressure the new Biden administration to ease the unprecedented sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 as part of what he called maximum pressure against Iran.

The Associated Press