Austrian FM: JCPOA has no better alternative

June 22, 2021 - 21:30

TEHRAN - Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has underlined the need to protect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying it may not be an ideal deal but it should be preserved.

The Austrian foreign minister made the remarks on Tuesday in a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan who traveled to Vienna, where diplomats from Iran and the remaining signatories to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been negotiating since early April to revive the JCPOA. 

During the last meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, the delegations expressed their satisfaction with the progress made in reviving the nuclear deal, reaffirming their determination and seriousness to pursue the dialogue process with a view to finding solutions to a number of unresolved issues. 

Underlining the importance of security of the West Asia region to Vienna, the Austrian foreign minister said, “JCPOA may not be a great deal, but it is better than nothing. Sometimes in politics, the question is whether to wait for a good deal, or you exploit what is available.”

He stated that the efforts of the JCPOA parties to maintain and ensure the full implementation of this agreement are valuable, Iran’s state news IRNA reported. 

Schallenberg said he was aware of the alleged concerns of countries in the region about Iran. “But the argument is that you are either saying that I would rather have no agreement until these issues are taken into account, or that we should move step by step.  In my opinion, the JCPOA is a valuable step and dialogue is very important in international politics.”

The Austrian foreign minister stated that in talks with his Saudi counterpart, he had discussed direct talks between Tehran and Riyadh. He called the move encouraging and added, “We have to see if these negotiations will continue in the new government (in Iran).”

He added, “Our goal in Austria is to have strong and friendly relations with all partners throughout the Middle East [West Asia].”

The top Austrian diplomat stressed the importance of regional security architecture and expressed readiness to help in that regard. 

Yemen was another issue that the two sides discussed, according to Schallenberg. The Austrian foreign minister described the humanitarian situation in Yemen as catastrophic and said that the situation has recently changed from bad to worse. Without mentioning Saudi Arabia's deadly attacks in Yemen, he called Ansarallah’s retaliatory actions unacceptable and stressed that the Yemeni crisis must be ended through a political solution, according to IRNA.

The chief Austrian diplomat also expressed concern about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, adding that the differences between the two countries in this regard are not hidden from anyone.

Responding to a question about his meeting with the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Saudi foreign minister said, “We believe that the role of the IAEA is important and it is necessary to support the activities of this organization to ensure that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.”

SM/PA

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