Sanctions Lifting First Step Toward Nuclear Deal Revival

JCPOA members agreed to resume talks in person in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures

Iran’s deputy foreign minister said the first step to restore the faltering 2015 nuclear deal is the removal of American sanctions, stressing that Iran would immediately reverse its remedial measures after verification. 
Abbas Araqchi made the remarks following the latest meeting of JCPOA’s Joint Commission on Friday, which centered on the United States’ likely return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, IRNA reported. 
Former US president, Donald Trump, pulled out of JCPOA unilaterally in 2018 and reinstated tough sanctions on Tehran, effectively jeopardizing Iran’s interests under the deal. 
In response, Iran reduced its compliance as per the provisions of the agreement in several moves that it said would be reversed once it can enjoy its JCPOA benefits once again.  
The new administration of US President Joe Biden wishes to rejoin the deal, but calls for Iran to resume full compliance. Tehran demands a full and effective lifting of sanctions before it reverses its remedial steps. 
Other parties, particularly the European Union as the coordinator of the deal, have been trying to work out a solution by engaging in talks with both sides. 
The issue was discussed on Friday during the virtual meeting of the Joint Commission which was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran at the level of deputy foreign ministers and political directors.
During the session, participants recognized the prospect of a full return of the US to JCPOA, and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort, according to a statement by Mora, published on the EEAS website. 
They also agreed to resume this session in Vienna next Tuesday in person, in order to clearly identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures, including through convening meetings of the relevant expert groups.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the purpose of the meeting would be to “rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures”. 
In the meantime, Borrell, as the coordinator, will intensify separate contacts in Vienna, Austria, with all JCPOA participants and the US, according to Mora’s statement. 
The aim is to reach an agreement within two months, a senior official with the European Union, the coordinator of the deal said.



A Roadmap

The US also announced on Friday that it will join indirect talks with Iran next week in Vienna, as the JCPOA parties hold the Joint Commission meeting.  
Araqchi, who is heading Iran’s delegation, said Iran would not engage in any direct or indirect talks with the US, but added that the remaining JCPOA members would be free to hold independent talks in any way that they wish.
“Whether other parties seek to consult bilaterally or multilaterally with the United States..., whether in Vienna or elsewhere, it is their own business,” he said. 
Washington’s goal, according to the US special envoy to Iran, is to discuss indirectly with their European and other partners who have internal discussions with Iran to see whether they could define the steps that both sides need to take to come back into compliance with the deal.
“Our goal is to see whether we could agree on a roadmap back to compliance for both sides,” Robert Malley said in an interview with NewsHour on Friday, implicitly referring to a step by step solution based on which both sides would resume compliance in parallel steps.
Araqchi said Iran does not recognize any step-by-step plan, nor is a roadmap needed. 
“There is only one ultimate step that the US must take and remove the sanctions that it has imposed,” he said. 
He also said there is no need for negotiations, as the US path back into compliance with JCPOA is clear. 
“Just as it exited the agreement and imposed illegal sanctions against Iran, the US can return to JCPOA and end law breaking,” he said. 
Malley did not rule out the possibility of the US removal of sanctions, saying they will have to “go through that painstaking work of looking at those sanctions and seeing what we have to do so Iran enjoys the benefits that it was supposed to enjoy under the deal”.
He said if both sides engage in the process with a realistic and constructive frame of mind, they could reach an agreement, but if either side takes a maximalist position, it would be difficult to achieve success. 

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