Araqchi in Vienna for JCPOA Meeting


Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi arrived in the Austrian capital Vienna on Monday to attend the Joint Commission meeting of the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 
He was set to hold bilateral talks with the heads of participating delegations on the sidelines of the main event on Tuesday, ISNA reported. 
Expert-level meetings between JCPOA parties were also due to be held on Monday, according to Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran's permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations. 
"In this trip, Araqchi will also meet the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency [Rafael Grossi] as well as Austrian foreign minister [Alexander Schallenberg]," he said. 
The Tuesday meeting, chaired on behalf of European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, by Secretary-General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid, will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran. 
The commission had last convened in early December 2019 at the level of deputy foreign ministers, but had not been able to hold a meeting since then due to travel restrictions sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The current meeting comes after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif triggered the deal's Dispute Resolution Mechanism in early July to discuss its concerns over the European parties' implementation issues within the JCPOA Joint Commission.  
The nuclear deal was signed between Iran and six world powers, but the United States withdrew unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran that the remaining parties failed to compensate for.
Despite their half-hearted measures, Europe has not been able to fulfill its commitments regarding measures to offset the effects of American sanctions. 
In mid-June, France, Germany and Britain submitted a resolution to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, urging Iran to allow access to two sites suspected of nuclear activity. 
Iran censured the measure, describing it as a move aligned with the US "maximum pressure" policy, although it later resolved the issue in direct talks with the IAEA director general during his visit to Tehran last week.
Tehran agreed to voluntarily provide IAEA with access to the two locations and the UN agency assured that it will not raise further questions to Iran and make further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and its Additional Protocol.
The three European powers even supported the US bid to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October, only stressing that their priority is to preserve JCPOA.
The arms ban is set to end as per the terms of the deal as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that enshrined it and any measure against the expiration would be a violation of both international documents. 
European parties expressed concerns about the lifting of restrictions, saying it would have major implications for regional security and stability, but suggested alternative solutions that reportedly involved limiting the potential volume of arms deals with Iran and extending the ban in a limited timeframe.
Unlike Russia and China that opposed the US resolution at the UN Security Council on August 24, the European trio abstained. 
As the UNSC rejected the resolution, Washington triggered the return of all UN sanctions on Tehran through a mechanism foreseen in JCPOA known as "snapback", despite having already exited the deal. 
An overwhelming majority of UNSC member states, including France, Germany and Britain, have objected to the move, saying the US is no longer a party to the deal and is not entitled to use its provisions.

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