Iran to halt 20% enrichment if sanctions lifted

A senior Iranian diplomat has told NHK that Iran will stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity if US sanctions against the country are lifted.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Wednesday agreed to an exclusive interview with a foreign media outlet for the first time since Tehran began the 20 percent enrichment. The move significantly violates the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

Araqchi noted that Iranians have suffered from the effects of US sanctions in the past four years. He said that as a diplomat, he "would not lose a minute to ensure that sanctions are lifted once again."

He said if the sanctions are lifted and Iran can benefit from the nuclear deal, the country would return to its obligations, adding the 20 percent enrichment "can be easily and swiftly reversed."

US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement in 2018.

Commenting on Washington possibly signing up to the pact again, Araqchi said, "It is up to them to decide," adding that "we welcome their return, but we are not begging for their return."

Referring to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, Araqchi said Iran will wait "to see how they want to return" to the pact and its requirements.