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Blinken ups rhetoric against Iran, says no South Korea funds release before full nuclear compliance

DUBAI: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the US will oppose the release of billions of dollars in Iranian funds from South Korea until Tehran has fully complied with the 2015 nuclear deal.

“If Iran comes back into compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement, we would do the same thing,” Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee when asked about the Iranian money in South Korea blocked by US sanctions.

“That would involve – if it came to that, if Iran made good on its obligations – sanctions relief pursuant to the agreement,” he said.

Blinken’s comments come less than a day after his predecessor Mike Pompeo told Arab News about his concerns on the Biden administration’s apparent weakness as shown by the “policy direction that they have indicated they intend to go.”

“They have made very clear that they would prefer to re-enter some kind of negotiation that’s closely tied to the 2015 JCPOA,” Pompeo said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“This administration said: ‘We’re going to take them off the list.’ This administration worked alongside the IAEA to say ‘No, were not going to issue a report about this material that was at undeclared locations,’” Pompeo said.

“They now are going to allow money from the IMF and from the Republic of Korea to flow into Iranian coffers. These are the kinds of concessions, before there’s been any conversation about actually even entering into a negotiation. This connotes weakness and, I promise you, the Iranian leadership understands how to drive a truck through American weakness.”

Blinken however assured American legislators during that hearings that “unless and until Iran comes back into compliance, they won’t be getting that relief.”

The Biden administration said on February 18 that it was willing to meet Iran under the auspices of the European Union but Tehran said the timing was not right, calling first for the removal of sanctions.

“We said we would attend. Iran so far has said no. I think the ball is in their court to see if they’re serious about engaging or not,” Blinken said.

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