President Honors Contributors to JCPOA

President Honors Contributors to JCPOAPresident Honors Contributors to JCPOA

Senior officials involved in efforts leading to last year's nuclear deal received medals of honor from President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony in Tehran on Monday.

The honored officials included Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who led the negotiating team, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and Defense Minister Lieutenant General Hossein Dehqan, IRNA reported.

The accord, clinched with P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) on July 14, became effective as of Jan. 16 to end sanctions against Iran in return for time-bound curbs on its nuclear program.

In an address to the ceremony, Rouhani highlighted the gains reaped from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the agreement is formally known.

The president said the whole system and nation share credit for securing sanctions relief under the action plan.

"The collapse of the sanctions regime and the wall of distrust which, I saw, started cracking two years ago, is a national rather than a factional honor," he said.

The JCPOA emerged from about two years of negotiations, after Rouhani took office in 2013.

The president said his government entered the talks with a precondition that any resulting agreement should involve an end to the UN Security Council resolutions and other sanctions.

He said the nuclear negotiators, without whose "bravery and expertise" the deal would have been impossible, deserve recognition as they not only succeeded in ending sanctions but also averted a war by debunking the claim by "the Zionist regime and arrogant powers" that Iran was developing nuclear warheads.

"French President [Francois Hollande] has said major powers were in discussion in 2012 to agree on an hour and date to invade Iran, but today they all are consulting on how to develop business with Iranians," he said.

  Incredible Feat

"An incredible feat was accomplished," he said of the JCPOA. Business delegations from around the world have been flocking to Tehran in the wake of the accord, seeking a foothold in an untapped, lucrative market ready to absorb foreign investment.

The president, who recently went on a European tour at the head of a high-level delegation of ministers and business leaders, negotiated deals worth tens of billions of dollars with the French and Italian governments in various sectors, including car manufacturing and civil aviation.

Rouhani took a swipe at domestic opponents critical of the government opening to foreign businesses, claiming it would result in overreliance on imports and undermining of domestic production.

"Don't lie to the people! Despite childish remarks by some, we have not agreed to replace domestic products with imported goods. We are seeking investment and technology, and developing partnership to gain access to new overseas markets," he said.