Zarif: ‘Negotiation under pressure is impossible’

July 10, 2019 - 22:2

TEHRAN – On repeated U.S. calls for negotiations with Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday that Iran will not negotiate under pressure, suggesting that the United States must first stop “economic terrorism” against Iran if it seeks negotiations.

“Negotiation under pressure has never been possible. They must stop pressure and economic terrorism against Iran and after that they can talk about implementing the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear deal],” Zarif told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

He noted that Iran’s move in reducing its nuclear commitments are based on the JCPOA.

Paragraph 36 provided a mechanism to resolve disputes and allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance.

Zarif said after the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018, the paragraph 36 of the deal has become operational.

Iran officially announced on Sunday it has started enriching uranium to a higher purity than the current 3.67%. The move came after the Europeans missed a 60-day deadline by Tehran to devise a concrete mechanism to protect Iran from the U.S. sanctions.

In a post on his Twitter page on Sunday, Zarif said, “Today, Iran is taking its second round of remedial steps under Para 36 of the JCPOA. We reserve the right to continue to exercise legal remedies within JCPOA to protect our interests in the face of US #EconomicTerrorism. All such steps are reversible only through E3 compliance.”

E3 includes the three European countries of Britain, France and Germany which are party to the JCPOA.

‘Seizure of Iran’s oil tanker is violation of JCPOA’

Zarif also said that the UK action in seizing Iran’s oil tanker is a violation of the JCPOA.

“Britain’s recent action is violation of obligations done on behalf of the U.S. and has nothing to do with Syria. Seizure of this tanker is fundamental violation of the JCPOA,” he stated.

Zarif said on Monday that the seizure of the tanker constitutes a concrete example of “piracy” which has been done on behalf of the B-Team. “UK's unlawful seizure of a tanker with Iranian oil on behalf of B-Team is piracy, pure and simple,” Zarif tweeted.

On July 4, British Royal Marines in Gibraltar stormed the Iran-operated supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar, seizing the 300,000-ton vessel based on the accusation that it was carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union’s sanctions on the war-torn Arab country.

Iran has said the act amounts to piracy.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Sunday denied reports that the supertanker was carrying oil to Syria.

“Contrary to Britain’s announcement, the tanker was not bound for Syria, and the port mentioned is not capable of receiving such a tanker,” Araqchi told reporters at a news conference in Tehran.