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Iran in no rush to see nuclear deal revived, supreme leader says

By ARSALAN SHAHLA AND GOLNAR MOTEVALLI | Bloomberg | Published: March 21, 2021

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country was in "no hurry" to revive the nuclear deal and warned the U.S. its current policy toward the Islamic Republic was doomed to fail unless sanctions are effectively and fully removed.

Khamenei's speech, marking the Persian new year in Iran, highlighted his impatience with the Biden administration's decision to maintain sanctions and continue a standoff that started almost three years ago when former President Donald Trump abandoned the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal.

"We shouldn't burn opportunities, but we shouldn't hurry either," Khamenei said, adding "we have a lot of patience and will continue to do our own thing. If they accepted and implemented our desired policy, everything will be fixed. If not, things will remain as it is and there's nothing wrong with that."

Khamenei dismissed the dispute between Washington and Tehran over which country should make the first move to return to its obligations in order to revive the accord that meant to limit the country's nuclear program to peaceful means.

"It's not a matter of who should be the first. The issue is that we trusted the Americans and fulfilled our commitments in the nuclear deal, but they didn't," he said, adding that Washington's word and promises had "no value to Iran."

Khamenei, who is head of state and whose opinions have a direct bearing on Iran's governance, reiterated that Tehran was still prepared to return to the original terms of the nuclear deal once the U.S. has tangibly and "verifiably" lifted sanctions.

His statement gives crucial signals to officials in both Tehran and Washington over what he expects from the next Iranian government, due to be elected in June, and suggested that he was ambivalent about President Hassan Rouhani being able to rescue the accord before he leaves office later this year.

Khamenei said he would favor a presidential candidate who is "pious, seeks justice and has strong revolutionary credentials," a strong indication that he wants a hardliner to secure a re-brokered nuclear deal and will back a man who will take a hostile view of engagement with the U.S.

Earlier on Sunday, Rouhani, whose two-term presidency is entering its final stretch, said he wanted to secure sanctions relief before his handover with his successor.