U.S. should lift sanctions before rejoining JCPOA

The final say

January 12, 2021 - 21:36

TEHRAN – Iran has not benefited from the 2015 nuclear deal and that it is not in a rush to get the United States to return to the nuclear deal because if the U.S. is to return to the deal without lifting its sanctions, it is Washington, not Tehran, that will benefit from the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In a dossier on the JCPOA, the Website of the Leader’s office made interviews with several high-ranking Iranian officials to discuss the latest developments regarding the nuclear deal and a possible U.S. return to it. Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution on international affairs, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Saeed Jalili, the former nuclear negotiator, Ali Akar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Council on Foreign Relations are among the officials that were interviewed by the website, which has published only a few of the interviews.

The common theme between the interviews is that the U.S. must lift its sanctions on Iran before rejoining the JCPOA because if the U.S. returns to the deal without the lifting of sanctions, Iran will gain nothing. On the contrary, the U.S. will once again achieve the status of being a “JCPOA participant,” which enables the U.S. to trigger the so-called snapback mechanism.

“After [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231, a U.S. participation in the JCPOA is useful only if it includes economic advantages for Iran. Through [Resolution] 2231, the Islamic Republic has achieved its goal with the U.S. participation in the JCPOA. In other words, the (sanctions) resolutions have been terminated. [But] now the U.S. can gain this concession by rejoining the JCPOA. This is not a concession that the U.S. will give us. Rather, it is a concession that the U.S. can get for itself, which means that the U.S. can monitor the implementation of the JCPOA. Therefore, the U.S. return to the JCPOA without the lifting of sanctions will not only not be in our interests, but it will be a sheer interest for the U.S.,” Zarif told  Khamenei.ir.

Velayati echoed a similar view, saying that the U.S. must lift the sanctions if it wants to rejoin the JCPOA.

“We do not insist on the U.S. return and we’re not in a rush for such a thing but if it wants to return, there are certain conditions, the most important of which is for the U.S. to lift the sanctions and make it clear that the new administration is living up to its obligations…. Therefore, if the U.S. wants to return to the JCPOA, it must end the sanctions, and of course, we do not insist on this return; if it wants to return then it can return, and if it doesn’t want to return then it can stay out of the deal. If they want to return, they must fulfill our conditions that are quite reasonable and make up for the shortcomings of the past,” Velayati stated.

Iran has made it clear that it is not eagerly waiting for the U.S. to return to the JCPOA. During his recent televised speech, the Leader of Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran is focusing on the lifting of the sanctions, not the U.S. return to the nuclear deal.

“The first point is the discussion about whether the U.S. should return to the Barjam or not. We do not at all insist on this and we are in no rush for the U.S. to return to it. Our issue is not at all if the U.S. will return to that deal or not. Our reasonable and logical demand is the lifting of sanctions. Sanctions should be lifted. This is a right that has been taken from the Iranian nation, whether by the U.S. or by the Europeans – who are tied to the U.S.’s apron strings and who follow that country,” the Leader said. “They are obliged to grant this right to the Iranian nation. Only if sanctions are lifted, will the U.S.’s return to Barjam have a meaning.”

Barjam is the Persian acronym for the JCPOA.

The Leader also pointed out that Iran does not see a U.S. return to the JCPOA without the lifting of the sanctions as a concession. In reality, such a return would be to Iran's disadvantage, Ayatollah Khamenei remarked.

“If sanctions are not supposed to be lifted, then its return to the JCPOA might even be to our disadvantage. Not only will it not be to our advantage, but it will also be to our disadvantage. Of course, I have told officials, both in the executive and legislative branches, that they should move forward in a careful manner and by observing all the necessary steps,” the Leader stated.

It remains to be seen whether the incoming Biden administration would lift the U.S. sanctions on Iran before rejoining the JCPOA. President-elect Joe Biden has said many times, before and after the November election, that he will return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal. But he did not say how he will rejoin the deal, whether he would lift sanctions before rejoining the deal.

Last year in September, Biden said in an op-ed for CNN that he will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, Biden wrote, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. Biden reaffirmed this position after he won the November election. But he also implied that he will raise other non-nuclear issues such as Iran’s missile program, which the Europeans have already raised. Americans and Europeans have called for a new round of talks with Iran to expand the existing deal and fix its alleged flaws.

Iran responded to this new demand by saying that there would be no negotiations on the missile issue. And now Iran has also implied that it wants to fix the deal’s flaws that the West never raised.

Velayati pointed to some flaws of the deal, saying that the JCPOA was not signed by the U.S. president at the time. He said the Leader had demanded a written commitment from then-President Barack Obama that the U.S. would implement its JCPOA commitments. But the U.S. refused to make such a commitment and rather it provided an oral one, which was later reneged on.

Velayati also said that Iran is not satisfied with the so-called snapback mechanism within the JCPOA. According to Velayati, the Leader was not content with this mechanism right from the start, but the mechanism was built into the JCPOA despite his discontent.

“If there is to be new negotiations, this mechanism must be certainly removed as an illogical provision,” Velayati said.

The snapback mechanism is a legal mechanism built into the JCPOA which allows a “JCPOA participant state” to restore all UN sanctions on Iran in case it didn’t uphold its obligations under the nuclear deal.



  • 2021-01-13 00:13
    im from cyprus would never trust the redneck yanks i support iran be careful iran these evil jewish zionists are despret trying to use the rednecks to attack and fight iran for them

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