Over the past 18 months, Iran has responded to President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and the reimposition of sanctions on Tehran by gradually violating key provisions of the nuclear deal. In January, Iran said it had restarted enrichment of uranium at 20% purity. A week later, it said it was preparing to produce uranium metal, which is often used in the core of a nuclear weapon.
Iran is also stockpiling more than 10 times as much low-enriched uranium as the nuclear accord allows. The maximum purity of this current stockpile is 4.5%, but if enriched to weapons grade of 90% purity it would be enough material for two weapons, some experts say.
President Biden said the U.S. won’t make the first move to restart negotiations with Tehran over the 2015 nuclear accord, indicating he would only lift sanctions if Iran stops enriching uranium beyond the limits of the nuclear deal.
“If they want Iran to return to its JCPOA commitments, the U.S. should lift all sanctions in action,” Mr. Khamenei said in remarks published on his website. “Once this is done, we will resume our JCPOA commitments.”
European officials and people familiar with discussions in Washington say there is likely to be a series of carefully sequenced steps leading both sides back to compliance in parallel.