U.S. should take the first step to revive JCPOA, Russia says

February 3, 2021 - 21:26

TEHRAN - Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, has demanded the United States to make the first move to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers.

The Russian diplomat was commenting on a Newsweek report claiming that the U.S. rejected Iran’s offer to coordinate both countries' return to their nuclear deal commitments. He also voiced support for Iran’s proposal for Tehran and Washington to synchronize their steps toward reviving the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“I hope this is a wrong assessment. Otherwise, we observe something as bonfire of vanities and fruitless ambitions: the other side has to make the first step. The way to nowhere. This is high time for U.S. and Iran to take coordinated steps to restore full implementation of JCPOA,” Ulyanov said in a tweet.

In an attempt to break the impasse over who would make the first move to revive the JCPOA, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has proposed a simultaneous approach to revive the nuclear deal.  

In a Monday interview with CNN, the chief Iranian diplomat said that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell can “choreograph” the process of reviving the deal.

According to Zarif, there can be a mechanism through which Borrell would synchronize or coordinate what can be done to revive the JCPOA.

“JCPOA has a mechanism built into the deal that is the Joint Commission. And the Joint Commission has a coordinator. The coordinator has two hats – it used to be Federica Mogherini now it is Josep Borrell. He has two hats; One hat is he is the high representative of the European Union for foreign defense policy. The other hat is the coordinator of the Joint Commission. He can put his hat as the coordinator of the Joint Commission and sort of choreograph the actions that are needed to be taken by the United States and the actions that are needed to be taken by Iran,” Zarif stated.

He reiterated this position in a tweet on Tuesday night. I told @cnni’s @CAmanpour: U.S. left the JCPOA and violated it. Iran took remedial measures. The U.S. should return to compliance. Iran will then immediately reverse remedial measures. @JosepBorrellF —Joint Commission Coordinator—can choreograph the moves in consultation with Iran & U.S,” the Iranian foreign minister tweeted.

But Newsweek reported that the Biden administration has dodged the Iranian offer, arguing that the Islamic Republic must first reinstate the restrictions suspended in response to the U.S. having abandoned the agreement entirely nearly three years ago.

“If Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would do the same,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his first press conference Tuesday, “and then we would then use that as a platform to build a longer and a stronger agreement that also addresses other areas of concern.”

“We are a long way from that,” the spokesperson continued.

The American official pointed out that the U.S. diplomat had not yet opened the issue with their Iranian counterparts.

And though he said the negotiation of a new nuclear deal was an issue that “cannot wait” and a challenge that the new administration had to “tackle immediately,” he indicated that Iran was “a far cry” away from taking initial steps needed to get diplomacy back on track, according to Newsweek.

Reuters cited on Tuesday an unidentified U.S. official as saying “there is no rejection” at the moment. The official implied that the U.S. neither accepted the Iranian suggestion nor rejected it.

Price said that he wouldn’t expect the U.S. to have any discussions with Iran until certain initial steps go forward.

“There are (many) steps in that process ... before we’re reaching the point where we are going to engage directly with the Iranians and willing to entertain any sort of proposal,” Price noted.

Another U.S. official was cited by Reuters as saying that Price’s comments should not be taken as a rebuff of Zarif’s idea, but rather reflected the fact that Biden’s Iran team is just settling in and has committed to consult widely.

“There is no rejection,” this official said. “We have not begun negotiating with Iran, or with anyone else, because our priority is to consult” with partners in the nuclear deal and in the region.

SM/PA

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