Iran Accuses Biden of Contradictions as U.S. Asks to Resume Talks While Issuing Sanctions

Iran's new foreign minister accused the Biden administration of being contradictory during negotiations, as the U.S. asks to resume nuclear talks while issuing sanctions.

The Biden administration asked Iran Thursday to resume talks on its nuclear program, which was suspended ahead of Iranian elections in June.

During a press briefing, Hossain Amir Abdollah was skeptical of Biden's intentions, emphasizing that actions and "behavior of the U.S. towards Iran is more important than 'empty but beautiful words'."

He said the Iran government believes said Biden "keeps carrying close to his heart the thick file of the Trump sanctions against Iran, even while seemingly pursuing negotiations."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Iran U.S. Nuclear Talks
Iran accused the Biden administration of send a contradictory message as the U.S. asks to resume nuclear talks while issuing sanctions. Pictured, an Iranian man walks by posters of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi outside a campaign office in Tehran on June 7, 2021. ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump routinely denounced the nuclear accord as the "worst deal ever negotiated" and withdrew from the agreement in 2018 after an ill-fated attempt to bring the other parties — Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran — on board with additional restrictions. After withdrawing, Trump embarked on what he called a "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran, re-imposing all the U.S. sanctions that had been eased under the deal and adding penalties.

Iran's top diplomat sharply criticized additional sanctions imposed by the Biden administration, as well as its refusal to give a green light for Iran to access millions of dollars of its money frozen in South Korea and Japanese banks to buy COVID-19 vaccines and medicine, and suddenly asking Britain to stop payment of 42-year-old debts.

Recalling that Iranians have a long, rich history and ancient civilization behind them, Amir Abdollah said "the United States of America must speak with a civilized tone and tongue with the people of Iran, not the language of threats, of pressure and sanctions." The past 42 years, since the Iranian revolution, have "made clear the language of threats will not work against the great people of Iran."

Biden and his team have made a U.S. return to the deal one of their top foreign policy priorities. The deal was one of President Barack Obama's signature achievements, one that aides now serving in the Biden administration had helped negotiate and that Trump tried to dismantle.

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In this photo provided by the United Nations, United Nations General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid of Maldives, right, meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at UN headquarters. Abdollah accused President Joe Biden of sending a contradictory message as the U.S. asks to resume talks while issuing sanctions. United Nations/Evan Schneider via AP

A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on condition that he not be identified by name, said U.S. patience is wearing thin and that further delays while Iran continues to expand its nuclear capabilities, including enriching uranium to higher levels, could lead Washington and its partners to conclude a return to the landmark nuclear deal is no longer worthwhile.

Amir Abdollah said the new government is reviewing the files of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna and will return to the talks because constructive negotiations can lead to "tangible, verifiable results."

The foreign minister said Iran's expectations are that all parties return to the Vienna negotiations and then fulfill their commitments under the 2015 agreement in a verifiable way.

Amir Abdollah stressed that the United States "should take action — constructive action, measurable action."

"Have no doubt," he said, "that if they wish to continue their previous language towards Iran and previous comportment towards Iran, the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not remain tied."