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Iran says it won’t negotiate missile program with Biden admin

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, April 4, 2018. (
December 15, 2020

On Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s missile program will not be part of negotiations with President-Elect Joe Biden and the U.S. returning to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal.

In comments made in a televised news conference in Iran, reported by Reuters, Rouhani said, “The Americans were trying for months to add the missile issue (to the nuclear talks) and this was rejected. (President Donald) Trump was uninformed and did not know about the matter, but Mr. Biden is well aware of the details of the deal.”

Rouhani added, “I have not heard Biden say that we have to reach another agreement in order to return to the nuclear deal. That is what Trump says.”

The Iranian president’s comments come as U.S. electors on Monday cast votes for Joe Biden as U.S. president. While President Donald Trump has maintained challenges to the U.S. election, Monday’s electoral college vote makes Biden the President-Elect of the United States.

There is an increased likelihood the U.S. will return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal under a Biden administration, which was brought forward under then-President Barack Obama and former Vice President Biden. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and has subsequently reimposed economic sanctions against Iran.

Though it remains a signatory in the deal, Iran has also repeatedly broken its commitments to the agreement, most recently stockpiling uranium and enriching it beyond allowable levels under the 2015 deal.

While Iran remains a signatory of the deal, along with other member nations, Biden has blamed Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the deal for Iran’s subsequent noncompliance with its commitments under the agreement. Biden’s campaign website states, “The historic Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside our allies and other world powers, blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump decided to cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, bringing the region to the cusp of another disastrous war. If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would re-enter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”

While Biden’s website states he would strengthen the deal and push back against Iran’s “other destabilizing activities,” it is unclear if Biden intends to make Iran’s missile programs a part of future negotiations surrounding a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.