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Iran's Zarif says time running out for U.S. to revive nuclear deal

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif looks on during a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran, Iran February 21, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - The United States should act quickly to revive Iran’s nuclear deal, because once Iran’s presidential election period kicks off it is unlikely much will happen until later this year, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Monday.

Speaking at the European Policy Centre think tank, Zarif repeated Tehran’s longstanding demand that Washington return first to compliance by lifting sanctions.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal, known as the JCPOA, under which Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions. Since then, Washington has reimposed sanctions and Tehran has responded by violating some of the conditions of the deal.

President Joe Biden aims to restore the deal, but Tehran and Washington each want the other side to comply first.

“The Europeans are used to compromise. Iran and the United States are not. The Americans are used to imposing, and we are used to resisting,” Zarif said. “So now is the time to decide will we both compromise and go back to the JCPOA, or will we go back to our own paths?”

Zarif said that he had seen no change between the Biden administration and the Trump administration’s policy of maximum pressure to force Iran back to the negotiating table. He said he saw no reason to hold preliminary talks, because the U.S. was making “extraneous” demands.

“There is a time constraint and that is once we go to our election it is a lame duck government and (it) will not be able to do anything serious and then we will have a waiting period of almost six months,” he said, referring to a presidential election due on June 18.

“It is advisable for the United States move fast and moving fast requires them not be shy, but takes measures that they need to take.”

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Peter Graff