Iran Welcomes US Sanctions Relief But Says It's Too Little

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's foreign minister on Saturday welcomed U.S. sanctions relief intended to entice Iran back to the 2015 nuclear deal, but called it insufficient.

On Friday, the Biden administration restored some sanctions relief to Iran's atomic program as world powers and the Islamic Republic continue talks aimed at salvaging the languishing agreement.

"Lifting some sanctions in a real and objective manner could be interpreted as the good will that Americans talk about," Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters.

However, he said the move "is not sufficient."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers related to Iran's civilian nuclear activities. The move reverses the Trump administration's decision to rescind them. It comes as U.S. negotiators return to Vienna for what could be a make-or-break session.

The waivers are ultimately intended to attract Iran back to the 2015 deal that it has been violating since former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed U.S. sanctions.

In the short term, the waivers will exempt foreign countries and companies that work in Iran's civilian nuclear sector from American penalties. The Trump administration rescinded them in May 2020.

Iran has gradually distanced itself from the terms of the nuclear deal with world powers after the U.S. pulled out of it. Iran has demanded the restoration of all sanctions relief it was promised under the deal before it returns to compliance.

"Good will, in our viewpoint, means that something tangible happens on the ground," Amirabdollahian said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Saturday also called the U.S. sanctions relief insufficient, saying Tehran expects the lifting of sanctions outlined under nuclear deal.

"Everyone knows that is not sufficient," Khatibzadeh was quoted as saying by the Iranian Jamaran news website. "Indeed, the Islamic Republic of Iran is waiting for the U.S. to implement its duties and commitments according to the nuclear deal dimensions."