Iran’s Zarif raises the prospect of a new nuclear agreement with Trump

Iran’s foreign minister has raised the prospect of a new agreement with the United States that would see permanent sanctions relief exchanged for Tehran’s permanent denuclearization.

By Tamara Qiblawi
Sept. 24, 2019

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif outlined a proposal for an agreement that would augment the 2015 nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018.

Iran would be prepared to sign an additional protocol, allowing for more intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities at an earlier date than that set out in the 2015 deal. The country’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, would also enshrine a ban on nuclear weapons in law, said Zarif.

Such a move could potentially address one of Trump’s main objections to the existing deal: Sunset clauses that allow Iran to resume higher levels of uranium enrichment.

In return, Trump would need to lift sanctions on Iran, and have the step ratified by Congress, said Zarif.

“We are prepared, if President Trump is serious about permanent for permanent. Permanent — Iran was never a nuclear weapons state, but permanent denuclearization as they like to hear it,” said Zarif.

Taking steps to tighten controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment program would need to happen “in return for what (Trump) has said he’s prepared to do and that is to go to Congress and have this ratified, which would mean Congress lifting the sanctions.”