Iran Reiterates Removal of Sanctions as Prerequisite for US Participation in JCPOA Meetings

Iran Reiterates Removal of Sanctions as Prerequisite for US Participation in JCPOA Meetings"If the Americans want to return to the nuclear deal, they are required to certainly and immediately stop the economic war, pressure and terrorism against the Iranian nation and implement their undertakings and if they want, they can sit in a corner in the nuclear deal joint commission (meetings)," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Moussavi told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

He noted that Iran would never roll out a red carpet for the Americans to participate in the JCPOA commission meetings, and said, "Resumption of undertakings by the US can be seen as a positive step."

Moussavi also said that issues raised in the JCPOA commission meetings are nothing new and they are mostly focused on ways to implement the nuclear deal, and added, "The nuclear deal is a finished case and no word will be added or omitted from it, as it is sufficient for anyone willing to implement it."

He, meantime, stressed that his country has not pinned hope on any country, including China, Russia and the European states, and said, "Iran would never become anyone's playing card. It will take decisions independently based on its national interests and security and will implement them."

Asked about Tehran's reaction to the European states' possible defiance from their nuclear deal undertakings after Iran's second 60-day deadline ends, Moussavi said, "We will take the third step after 60 days and we are still studying it and if the remaining countries (in the nuclear deal), specially the Europeans, do not act upon their obligations seriously and suffice to speech therapy, Iran's third step will be stronger and more decisive."

He also declared an upcoming visit by French president's diplomatic advisor Emmanuel Bonne to Tehran in the next few days for talks with Iranian officials.

In relevant comments on Sunday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi had also announced that the US could return to the meetings of the commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the implementation of the nuclear deal only after removing sanctions.

Talking to reporters in a press conference in Tehran, Araqchi referred to the Saturday talks between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his French counterpart Emanuel Macron, and said, "Based on Rouhani's remarks, the US presence in the talks (between Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear- China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany) on the implementation of the present nuclear deal, and not for renegotiation, is ok. Of course, this does not mean formation of the 5+1 again and we do not have anything called 5+1 because the US has withdrawn from the nuclear deal."

He explained that the JCPOA commission meetings are about the implementation of the nuclear deal and not for renegotiating it, and stressed, "We are having talks with the 4+1 and if the US wants to participate in the negotiations, we have no problem but only after it removes sanctions."

Araqchi expressed the hope that talks between the Iranian and French presidents and their discussions on new ideas and initiatives would lead to the formation of new talks.

He, meantime, said that Iran had not pinned hope on any country, specially the Europeans and their proposed mechanism for trade with Iran named INSTEX, adding that Tehran would open any way it could to confront the US economic war through cooperation with China, India, Turkey and its different economic partners, including the Europeans.

President Rouhani in a phone conversation with his French counterpart Emanuel Macron on Saturday night lashed out at Washington for launching a full-scale economic war against Iran, stressing the need for Europe to double efforts to save the nuclear deal.

During the phone conversation, Rouhani said the United States had launched an all-out economic war on Iran by imposing rafts of sanctions on the country.

“Continued economic war could lead to other threats in the region and in the world,” he warned.

The Iranian president said that Tehran has tried to save the 2015 nuclear deal with major global powers through its “strategic patience” despite all sanctions and pressures that have been in place since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in May last year.

Rouhani told Macron, whose country is a party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that there was a need for the European Union to observe its responsibilities vis-à-vis international agreements and to act to protect the JCPOA.

He endorsed an assertion by Macron that a full stop to all sanctions could trigger a new start in ties between Iran and the signatories to the JCPOA, which also include Russia, China, Britain and Germany.

Macro, for his part, said that he has strongly opposed Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA since it took place last year.

He said the EU continued to support efforts to save the JCPOA although admitting that measures adopted by the bloc to offset the impacts of US sanctions on Iran have not been enough.

Washington withdrew from the internationally-endorsed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran on May 2018, reimposed the toughest-ever sanctions against the country and started a plan to zero down Tehran's oil sales.

Under the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, Tehran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Yet, Iran continued compliance with deal, stressing that the remaining signatories to the agreement (specially the Europeans) had to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they want Tehran to remain in compliance. The Iranian officials had earlier warned that the European Union’s failure in providing the needed ground for Tehran to enjoy the economic benefits of the nuclear deal would exhaust the country's patience.

Almost a year later, however, the EU failed to provide Tehran with its promised merits. Then, the US state department announced that it had not extended two waivers, one that allowed Iran to store excess heavy water produced in the uranium enrichment process in Oman, and one that allowed Iran to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russia.

Until now, Iran was allowed to ship low-enriched uranium produced at Natanz to Russia before it hit the 300-kg limit and the US measure leaves no way for Tehran other than exceeding the ceiling for storing the enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Also, the United States would no longer waive sanctions that allowed Iran to ship heavy water produced at its Arak facility beyond a 300-ton limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal to Oman for storage which again forces Tehran to store it inside country in violation of the nuclear deal.

In return, Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) announced in a statement on May 8 that the country had modified two of its undertakings under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in return for the US abrogation of the deal and other signatories inability to make up for the losses under the agreement, warning that modifications would continue if the world powers failed to take action in line with their promises.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran declares that at the current stage, it does not any more see itself committed to respecting the limitations on keeping enriched uranium and heavy water reserves," the statement said.

Then Iran gave Europe 60 days to either normalize economic ties with Iran or accept the modification of Tehran’s obligations under the agreement and implement the Europe's proposed Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX) to facilitate trade with Iran.

Iran set up and registered a counterpart to INSTEX called Special Trade and Financing Instrument between Iran and Europe (STFI) to pave the way for bilateral trade.

Then on June 28, Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Helga Schmid announced that INSTEX has become operational.

"INSTEX now operational, first transactions being processed and more EU Members States to join. Good progress on Arak and Fordow projects," Schmid wrote on her twitter account after a meeting of the Joint Commission on JCPOA ended in Vienna following three and a half hours of talks by the remaining signatories to the deal (the EU3 and Russia and China).

It was the 12th meeting of the Joint Commission on JCPOA in Vienna.

Meantime, seven European countries--Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden--in a joint statement expressed their support for the efforts for implementation of the INSTEX.

Later, Araqchi described the nuclear deal joint commission meeting with the Europeans as "a step forward", but meantime, reminded that it did not meet Iran's expectations.

“It was a step forward, but it is still not enough and not meeting Iran’s expectations,” said Araqchi, who headed the Iranian delegation at the JCPOA joint commission meeting in Vienna.

Despite their non-commitment to undertakings under the JCPOA, the Europeans took a step against Iran's interests last Thursday by seizing an Iranian oil tanker by Britain at the US request.

Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Gibraltar detained the supertanker Grace 1 after a request by the United States to Britain.

Borrell was quoted by Reuters as saying that Spain was looking into the seizure of the ship and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters.

Spain does not recognize the waters around Gibraltar as British.

Experts believe that the measure taken by the British government in seizing the Syria-bound Iranian tanker is illegal and can have serious consequences for the government in London.

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