Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Europeans Unlikely to Quit Iran Nuclear Deal: FM Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the three European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are unlikely to pull out of the agreement.

Zarif — who is on an official visit to Beijing — told IRNA on Tuesday that China and Russia are unanimous in the position that the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and ensuing schemes to cause problems for the other parties seeking to respect the international document have put the nuclear accord in jeopardy.

“Unfortunately, the Europeans have failed to carry out practical measures independent of the United States over the past years,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

He once again reaffirmed the reversibility of Iran’s retaliatory steps to reduce its commitments under the JCPOA and said if the Europeans take practical action in order to fulfill their side of the bargain, “we are also ready to gradually reverse the measures we adopted.”

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the JCPOA in defiance of global criticism, and later re-imposed the sanctions that had been lifted against Tehran as part of the agreement.

Iran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as the European signatories — France, Britain and Germany — find practical ways to shield mutual trade from the US sanctions.

European members since last month have begun raising the possibility of triggering the JCPOA’s “dispute resolution mechanism,” which is also known as the trigger mechanism, and whose activation can lead to the return of the UN sanctions on Iran.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said on December 23 that if the European signatories to the JCPOA activate the ‘trigger mechanism’ to mount pressure on Iran, it will mean the demise of the deal.

Elsewhere in his interview, Zarif described Russia and China as Iran’s close political and strategic partners and said Tehran, Moscow and Beijing should hold regular consultations given their bilateral, regional and international cooperation.

He added that he held talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts over the past two days about the future of the JCPOA as well as ways to counter illegal US measures.

Stressing the importance of ensuring regional security, the Iranian foreign minister said, “Our region needs cooperation. It will be possible to reach peace and security only through cooperation and not within the framework of dangerous military coalitions.”

He also said the recent naval maneuvers jointly carried out by Iran, Russia and China in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean conveyed the message that the trio is opposed to Washington’s unilateralism.

“You cannot form a coalition against one of the regional countries” under the pretext of securing the region, said Zarif in an address to the US. “All the countries must become involved and cooperation must replace the conflict method.”

“That was the message of Iran, China and Russia as powerful countries that stood against the US unilateral measures,” Zarif pointed out.

The three-day dills were held last week, covering 17,000 square kilometers in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. The maneuvers featured various tactical exercises, such as target practice and rescuing ships from assaults and fires.

The drills comes as the United States has been seeking to set up a so-called international maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf following a series of suspicious attacks on passing takers in the waterway it blamed on Iran.

Tehran has firmly rejected the accusations, describing the incidents as false flag operations.

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