Iran issues angry warning to US as Biden sworn in as US President: ‘Action not words’

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Mr Biden enters the White House with tensions between Washington and Tehran at breaking point amid growing fears of a confrontation between the two sides. And his inauguration today was met with a warning from the Islamic Republic.

The world knows that only the US can fix itself – in practice; not just words

Saeed Khatibzadeh

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted: “The world knows that only the US can fix itself – in practice; not just words.”

Mr Khatibzadeh’s comments came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the incoming US administration to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on Tehran, while welcoming the end of “tyrant” President Donald Trump’s era.

Mr Biden has said the United States will rejoin the pact, which includes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work, if Tehran resumes strict compliance.

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But Rouhani said: “The ball is in the US court now.

“If Washington returns to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact.

“Today, we expect the incoming US administration to return to the rule of law and commit themselves, and if they can, in the next four years, to remove all the black spots of the previous four years.”

Tensions have been soaring between grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Mr Trump quit the deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to limit Tehran’s nuclear programme and to prevent it developing atomic weapons. Washington re-imposed sanctions that have badly hit Iran’s economy.

Iran, which denies ever seeking nuclear arms, retaliated to Mr Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy by gradually breaching the accord but insists it can quickly reverse those violations if the sanctions are removed.

Mr Rouhani said: “Tyrant Trump’s political career and his ominous reign are over today and his ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran has completely failed.

“Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive.”

Mr Biden appears to see a return to the deal as a prelude to wider talks on Iran’s nuclear work, its ballistic missiles and regional activities.

But Tehran has ruled out halting its missile programme or changing its regional policy.

Mr Biden’s choice to lead the Pentagon, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, said warned Iran posed a threat to American allies in the region and forces stationed in the Middle East.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state television: “The United States and other Western countries have turned our region to a powder keg, not Iran.”

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Dame Karen Pierce, the UK’s Ambassador to the US, said she expects the Biden administration to make a strong commitment to the rules-based international system.

She said: “There are many ways to describe that, so he might not use those exact words, but I think we will see in Biden, in the administration, a very strong commitment to the UN, to the international financial institutions, to those aspects of the UN like global health and climate.

“I would expect the Biden administration to want to send some very early signals of that.

“Joe Biden has already said he would like to come back into the Paris climate agreement, he wants to come back to the Iran nuclear agreement and I think we will see a raft of announcements like that that then form the ground base to being able to take international co-operation to the next stage.”

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