Zarif embarks on journey to save nuclear deal by first visiting China

May 14, 2018

TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday started a tour to save the nuclear agreement by first visiting China, a party to the multilateral agreement.

The trip comes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On Sunday Zarif met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, where he hoped to depict a “clearer image of the future of the JCPOA”.

Tehran signed the deal with the P5+1 (the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) in 2015, agreeing to limit its nuclear activities in return for termination of economic and financial sanctions.

Trump has said that he would reinstate U.S. nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic. This is while the UN’s atomic watchdog, the IAEA, have in 10 periodical reports since the JCPOA’s implementation in January 2016 testified to Iran’s abidance by the deal.

Iran has said it would remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision.

Shortly after Trump's announcement about the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would stay in the deal with other signatories if its interests are guaranteed.

During talks with the Chinese foreign minister, Zarif pointed to good relations between Tehran and Beijing after the JCPOA implementation started in 2016, saying, “We are confident that China will stand by Iran.”

“China and Iran have comprehensive strategic partnership and are trade partners and these relations still continue,” he noted.

The top Chinese diplomat, for his part, hoped that Zarif’s visit would lead to important achievements to salvage the JCPOA and protect Iran's interests.
 “I hope and believe that these visits to multiple countries will improve countries’, including China’s, understanding of Iran’s position,” Wang said. “It will allow you to make your own positive contribution to help protect Iran’s legitimate national interests and peace and stability in the region.”

After China, the Iranian foreign minister was scheduled to fly to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and then Brussels to consult with British, French and German foreign ministers as well as EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

The European Union’s chief diplomat said on Tuesday that the bloc was determined to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

The 2015 agreement “is delivering on its goal, which is guaranteeing that Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons, the European Union is determined to preserve it,” Mogherini said, warning that she was “particularly worried” by the U.S. announcement of fresh sanctions.

Upon entering Beijing, Zarif briefed reporters on the reasons for his trip.

“Considering the fact that the EU member states have made the most requests that after America’s withdrawal it wants to stay in the JCPOA, we should see how these countries ensure that the interests of Iran will be guaranteed despite America’s pullout,” he stated.

“As the president said, we are ready for all options. But if the JCPOA is to survive, the interests of the nation should be met.”

SP/PA

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