Zarif urges U.S. to change course

June 8, 2021 - 18:44

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has reacted to the claims of his American counterpart about the necessary measures to fully resume the nuclear agreement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said that the U.S. still does not know whether Iran is ready to resume compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Speaking before two congressional committees on Monday, the top U.S. diplomat said, “It remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do come back into compliance. So, we’re still testing that proposition.”

Zarif responded to Blinken’s remarks by saying that it’s was also unclear for Iran whether the Biden administration and Blinken are ready to break with the pressure campaign launched by the Trump administration and the former U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. 

“It remains unclear whether @POTUS and @SecBlinken are ready to bury the failed “maximum pressure” policy of Trump and @mikepompeo, and cease using Economic Terrorism as bargaining ‘leverage.’ Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. Just read paragraph 36. Time to change course,” Zarif said on Twitter. 

One year after the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic of Iran fulfilled all its obligations under the agreement to give European countries, that had promised to compensate for the effects of Washington's withdrawal from the agreement, an opportunity to work to fulfill this promise.

One year after the United States quit the JCPOA, Iran announced that it would gradually reduce its obligations under the deal, given that European countries did not have the ability or will to fulfill their obligation.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, after taking five steps to reduce its commitments, finally announced in early January 2020 that it no longer faces any operational constraints such as enrichment capacity, enrichment percentage, stockpile of enriched materials, and research and development.

Iran's measures were carried out in accordance with the provisions of the nuclear deal including Paragraph 36, which allows Tehran to reduce its obligations under the JCPOA if other parties do not comply, according to Fars News.

The former U.S. administration unilaterally withdrew from the agreement approved by the UN Security Council despite a confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is fully complying with all its obligations.

The current U.S. administration, led by Joe Biden, has claimed that it intends to pave the way for Washington’s return to the JCPOA through the ongoing negotiations in Vienna, although the White House has so far refused to fulfill its commitments to fulfill this promise.

Although the U.S. administration has been the party that breached the nuclear deal and has pulled out of it, officials at the Biden administration say their return to the JCPOA depends on Iran reversing the reduction of its obligations under the deal.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has stated that, given that the United States has violated the JCPOA and that Tehran's actions were in response to Washington’s violations, any action by Tehran will be taken after the lifting of sanctions and verification of this claim.

Earlier, in a telephone conversation with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Zarif said he agreed with his British counterpart on the need to resume the 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif also urged the U.S. to return to its obligations and stop trying to use economic sanctions as a negotiating “leverage.”

“Agreed in phone call with FM @DominicRaab on need to resume full compliance with the JCPOA. Underlined that U.S. must return fully to its obligations & cease trying to use unlawful economic war against Iran as negotiating ‘leverage.’  Also discussed bilateral & consular issues,” Zarif said on Twitter.

The remarks came after Iran and the P4+1 concluded the fifth round of talks in Vienna on June 2. Following more than a week of intensive bilateral and multilateral talks at different levels, the JCPOA Joint Commission held a meeting at the Austrian capital's Grand Hotel on Wednesday (June 2). 

During the meeting, the heads of the negotiating teams of the JCPOA member states evaluated the latest status of negotiations.

All delegations expressed pleasure with the progress made so far, and once again underlined their determination and seriousness to pursue the negotiations in the coming days with the purpose of finding solutions to a number of issues that have yet to be settled, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

During the meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, the participants agreed to continue their contacts and talks at the level of experts. They also agreed that the heads of delegations go back to their capitals for a few days for consultations, and then resume the talks in the coming days.

A few hours before the meeting, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi, who leads the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, told the Iranian TV that the meeting would conclude the fifth round of talks.

“Today we are in a situation where we have to make a new conclusion on the negotiations that have taken place so far,” he said ahead of the meeting. 

He added, “All delegations concluded that visits should be made to the capitals for further consultation and further decision-making on disputes. Today we will have a final meeting of the Joint Commission, after which the delegations will return to their capitals.”

The top Iranian nuclear negotiator said during the June 2 meeting a return date will likely be set for delegations to return to Vienna. 

“All delegations are determined and there is complete seriousness. Disagreements have reached a point where everyone believes that it is not impossible to resolve, but details are important anyway, and our firm positions are important to be respected. God willing, the meeting will conclude when we will start,” Araqchi said, noting, “I do not know if it will be too far and we will probably return to Vienna after a consultation period in Tehran, God willing, as in the past.”

So far, the negotiating partners in Vienna have held five rounds of talks to discuss the possible U.S. return to the JCPOA. They made progress in terms of determining some of the measures needed to be taken by Iran and the U.S. to resume full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but they are yet to arrive at a final agreement on how to achieve the goal of fully restoring the JCPOA to the pre-Trump era. Iran has called on the U.S. to lift all the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. The U.S., however, has shown little interest in lifting all the Trump-era sanctions.

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