US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said relations with China, Afghanistan and Iran are key top priorities for the new administration.
“From our point of view, a critical first priority must be to deal with what is a growing nuclear crisis as they (Iran) come closer and closer to having enough fissile material for a weapon.” Sullivan told an online program sponsored by the American Institute. peace Friday.
“We would like to make sure that we establish some of the parameters and constraints surrounding the program that have disappeared over the past few years,” continued Sullivan.
Sullivan’s comments come after Biden’s new Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Wednesday insisted Tehran must start complying with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal again before Washington does.
Blinken said that “if Iran returned to full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would do the same.”
Tehran will not accept US demands to reverse the acceleration of its nuclear program before Washington lifts sanctions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday.
The request “is not practical and will not happen,” he told a joint press conference in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Iran violated the terms of the deal in a step-by-step response to Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal in 2018 and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Earlier this month, Iran resumed 20% uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear power plant – a level it had reached before the deal.
However, Iran has said it can quickly reverse these violations if US sanctions are lifted.
“If the United States fulfills its obligations, we will fully meet our obligations,” he said.
A critical look at the deal with the Taliban
Sullivan discussed the May 1 deadline for pulling out remaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan under the deal, saying they were “looking closely” at how the Taliban was sticking to their deal with the United States before moving on. decide how to proceed.
The February 2020 agreement with the Taliban calls for a complete withdrawal of American troops by May 2021 in exchange for respecting the group’s security guarantees.
The deal, Sullivan said, has three conditions that “stand out” from the Biden administration: the Taliban’s severing of ties with “terrorist” groups, their “significant” reduction in violence, and their support for the ceasefire. -fire, and their participation in “real… no fake” negotiations with the Afghan government.
“What we are doing now is taking a close look at how well the Taliban is in fact complying with these three conditions, and in that context we are making decisions regarding our position of strength and our diplomatic strategy going forward.” , Sullivan said.
His comments come a day after the Pentagon said “It is very difficult” to see a “way forward” with the agreement without the Taliban honoring their commitments.
“Without them fulfilling their commitments to renounce terrorism and end the violent attacks against the Afghan national security forces … it is very difficult to see a specific path for the negotiated settlement, but we are still committed to this” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.
U.S. officials and diplomats have said ties between the Taliban, especially its branch of the Haqqani Network, and al-Qaeda remain close.
“So far the Taliban have been, to put it politely, reluctant to meet their demands,” Kirby added.
Meanwhile, the Taliban on Friday accused the United States violating its side of the deal with a spokesperson saying “almost every day they violate it.”
“They are bombing civilians, houses and villages, and we have informed them from time to time, these are not only violations of the agreement but violations of human rights,” said Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar, to the AFP news agency. Friday.
China also plays a key role
Sullivan also said on Friday that the United States must be prepared to impose costs on China for its actions against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, its crackdown in Hong Kong, and threats to Taiwan.
He said the United States must speak with clarity and consistency and must be “ready to act, as well as impose costs, for what China is doing in Xinjiang, what it is doing in Hong Kong, for the warmongering and the threats it projects. to Taiwan ”.
Sullivan did not elaborate on specific actions Washington might take.
He said the China issue was at the top of those to be addressed between the United States and allies in Europe and stressed the need to agree joint responses with Europe on China’s trade and technology abuses.
“We don’t have fully aligned views on each of these issues… I think China is right at the top of the list of things we need to work on together and where there is work to be done to be fully. aligned. “
The Biden administration, which took office on Jan.20, has said it will continue Trump’s tough stance on China, but wants Beijing’s cooperation on political priorities such as climate change. .
Blinken endorsed a last-minute determination by his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang. The move increases the pressure for more U.S. sanctions, which the Trump administration has also imposed following Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
Biden’s administration issued a strong statement in favor of Taiwan amid heightened Chinese military activity near the island, stressing that the US engagement in Taipei is “rock solid” .