Iran rejects gradual revival of JCPOA as EU mulls sequential return

April 21, 2021 - 16:4

TEHRAN – The European Union has raised the prospect of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by pursuing a possible sequencing of measures as Iran underlined the need to revive the nuclear deal in one major step.

Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), resumed their talks on Tuesday with the purpose of finding a way to resolve challenges related to the JCPOA.

The Tuesday meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the EEAS Political Director Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran. Seyed Abbas Araghchi, the deputy foreign minister of Iran, led the Iranian negotiating team at the Vienna talks.

“Participants took stock of progress made in the ongoing discussions in Vienna regarding specific measures needed in terms of sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation for the possible return of the US to the JCPOA and its full and effective implementation,” the European Union External Action Service said in a statement following the Tuesday meeting.

The statement claimed that Iran and the P4+1 –China, Russia, France, and the UK plus Germany- decided to create another expert group to study the possible sequencing of measures intended to revive the nuclear deal.

“The Joint Commission decided to create a third expert group to start looking into the possible sequencing of respective measures,” the statement said, adding, “Participants reiterated their resolve to further pursue their joint diplomatic effort including in the Joint Commission and through continued separate contacts of the Coordinator with all JCPOA participants and the United States. The Joint Commission will reconvene in the course of next week.”

So far, the Vienna talks have resulted in the establishment of two expert-level working groups, one to identify the sanctions that the U.S. should remove in order to return to the JCPOA, and another to specify the nuclear activities that Iran should reverse. These groups report their discussions to the Joint Commission.

Following the Tuesday meeting, Araghchi said the remaining parties to the JCPOA have decided to establish a third expert-level group next week to discuss practical arrangements required to lift the U.S. sanctions and realize the U.S. return to the JCPOA.

Araghchi issued a statement after the meeting, but he did not point to any sequential plan to revive the JCPOA. He denied reports of Iran agreeing to a temporary agreement to revive the JCPOA.
He said the subject of reaching a temporary agreement has never been broached at the talks between Iran and the P4+1. Araghchi was responding to press reports in Western media outlets claiming that Iran and the P4+1 could soon reach a temporary agreement to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

“There is no discussion of a ‘temporary agreement’ or similar issues in the talks between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P4 + 1,” Araghchi said in a statement published on his Telegram Channel late on Monday night.

He also underlined that Iran is only negotiating a “final step” to lift U.S. sanctions. “The Islamic Republic of Iran only talks about the final step in lifting the cruel sanctions against the Iranian people, and rumors such as step-by-step plans or a temporary agreement are baseless,” Araghchi said.

While the EU openly spoke of a sequential return, an informed source told Press TV that Iran does not accept the sequential lifting of sanctions in the ongoing talks on the revival of the nuclear agreement and the bans must be removed altogether.

“The Islamic Republic would by no means settle for the suspension, easing or extending waiver of sanctions and that the bans should entirely be removed,” the source said, adding, “A one-week verification of lifting anti-Iran bans is not possible and it takes between three and six months to verify the lifting of sanctions.”

Iran has made it clear that it won’t accept any gradual or step-by-step return to the JCPOA and that all the sanctions that the previous U.S. administration imposed on Iran must be lifted all at once. Iran said it will verify the lifting of these sanctions and then decide on whether to return to the tattered nuclear deal.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has stated that Iran has a definite nuclear policy that will guide Iranian negotiators.

“The country’s policy on the interaction with the JCPOA sides and on the nuclear deal itself has already been explicitly declared. This policy will not be violated in any way. It is a policy which has already been announced and which is adopted with everyone’s agreement. It is not the case that this policy was an exception to other policies. Everyone has agreed to it,” the Leader said in a televised speech on March 21.

“This policy is that the Americans should lift all sanctions. After that, we will verify. If the sanctions have been lifted, we will return to our JCPOA commitments. We will return without any problem. This is a definite policy. We do not consider American promises to be valid. If they say that they will lift them on paper, this is of no use. What is necessary is action! They should lift the sanctions in practice. Subsequently, we will verify their statements to make sure that the sanctions have been lifted. Then, we will resume our commitments,” he continued.

Negotiating teams of Iran and the P4+1 as well as the U.S. are expected to return to their capitals to conduct consultations with decision-makers. They will resume their negotiations next week. The top Iranian nuclear negotiator has warned that Tehran will stop the Vienna talks if the process of discussions tilts toward bullying, bargaining, and wasting time. Iran has said it only wants to revive the deal without adding anything to its original version while the U.S. has expressed interest in “lengthening and strengthening” it. Some U.S. officials have said that the nuclear deal needs to be reopened.

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