Blinken says 'hundreds of sanctions' against Iran to remain in place

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Review of the FY 2022 State Department Budget Request in Washington, D.C., the United States, on June 8, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that "hundreds of sanctions" against Iran will remain in place even if Washington and Tehran return to compliance with the nuclear deal.

"I would anticipate that even in the events of a return to compliance with the JCPOA, hundreds of sanctions will remain in place, including sanctions imposed by the Trump administration," Blinken told the Senate Appropriations Committee in a hearing.

He noted that the United States would lift sanctions inconsistent with the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if Iran returns to compliance.

"If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain, unless and until Iran's behavior changes," he added.

Blinken again raised doubt about whether Tehran is willing to take steps to come back into compliance.

His similar comments on Monday were met with an immediate response from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"It remains unclear whether @POTUS (President Joe Biden) and @SecBlinken are ready to bury the failed 'maximum pressure' policy of Trump ... and cease using #EconomicTerrorism as bargaining 'leverage,'" he tweeted.

The United States and Iran have held five rounds of indirect negotiations in Austria's capital Vienna since April aimed at reviving the nuclear deal.

Abbas Araqchi, the head of Iran's negotiating team, said last week that the next round of talks in Vienna could be conclusive and lead to an agreement.

The United States, however, has been more cautious on the prospect. "There are some hurdles that remain that we haven't been able to overcome in those five rounds," State Department spokesperson Ned Price last week said in a briefing.

The U.S. government under former President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran. In response, Iran gradually stopped implementing parts of its JCPOA commitments from May 2019.