Iran says ending inspections not a breach

·2-min read

Iran's decision to end snap inspections by the United Nations won't mean abandoning its 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says.

However the United States must still lift sanctions on Tehran to rescue the pact.

"All our steps (to breach the deal) are reversible," Zarif told Iran's English Language Press TV on Sunday.

"The move on February 23 is not abandoning the deal."

Under a law enacted by hardliners last year, the government is obliged to limit IAEA inspections to declared nuclear sites only, revoking its short-notice access to any location seen as relevant for information-gathering, if other parties did not fully comply with the deal.

President Joe Biden's administration said on Thursday it was ready to talk about both nations returning to the accord, which aimed to prevent Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons while lifting most international sanctions.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

But Iran and the United States have been at odds over who should take the first step to revive the accord.

Iran insists the United States must first lift sanctions while Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance.

Zarif reiterated Iran's stance that Washington should take the first step.

"The United States must return to the deal and lift all sanctions ... The United States is addicted to sanctions but they should know that Iran will not yield to pressure," he said.

"We are not seeking nuclear weapons."

Zarif also said that "for all practical purposes" the Biden administration is pursuing the same policy of "maximum pressure" as Trump.

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency who is in Tehran to discuss the agency's "essential verification activities" met on Sunday with Iran's atomic chief, state media reported.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said on Saturday concerns over Iran's ending the implementation of the IAEA's Additional Protocol will be discussed during his meeting with Grossi.