Senior MP rejects Saudi ‘JCPOA++’ offer

November 24, 2020 - 19:31

TEHRAN – Mojtaba Zolnouri, the head of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has rejected a Saudi offer to be a partner on any future nuclear deal with Iran.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud told CNBC that President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has set the groundwork for a new agreement with Iran and that Saudi Arabia should be a part of any potential negotiations between the incoming U.S. administration and Iran on a new nuclear deal. The chief Saudi diplomat said Saudi Arabia seeks to partner with the U.S. administration on a potential new agreement, which would not only limit Iran’s nuclear activities but also seek to address what he called its “regional malign activity.”

Such an accord could be labeled the “JCPOA++,” he added. The JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers that limited the country’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The original agreement was signed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. – Germany and the European Union.

But President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, calling it the “worst deal in history.” Since then, the White House has imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Iran under the “maximum pressure” policy in a bid to reach what he called a better deal with Iran.

Other signatories remain committed to the nuclear deal and refrained from going with Trump, but now that Trump seems to be losing the U.S. presidential election, there is talk that a renegotiated pact could be on the cards, with more pressure on Iran over its missile program and other regional issues. A new agreement has been touted as a “JCPOA+” — that is, like the original deal but with more conditions attached according to CNBC.

The Saudi foreign minister believes such an agreement could go even further, claiming that a “JCPOA++” deal could also seek to address Iran’s alleged “arming of militias, whether it’s the Houthis in Yemen, or certain groups in Iraq or in Syria, or Lebanon, and even beyond.”

“And, of course, its ballistic missile programs and other arms programs, which (it) continues to use to spread havoc around the region,” bin Farhan added.

Zolnouri said these remarks indicate the weakness of Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh.

“These remarks indicate three things: First, the United States, the Zionist regime, and Saudi Arabia are alone, and none of them see themselves as capable enough to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran. They need the help of others. Second, the remarks of the Saudi foreign minister show the hostile ties of Saudi Arabia with the Zionist regime and the United States. [Third], neither the U.S., nor Israel, or Saudi Arabia have the right to interfere in Iran’s decisions, and Iran is free to negotiate with any country it wants,” the senior lawmaker told the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA) on Monday.

Iran is yet to start negotiations with the U.S. or other parties. Some Iranian officials have ruled out any prospect of a new round of talks between Tehran and Washington due to the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

SM/PA

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