JCPOA Panel Meets on Tehran Grievances

Iranian deputy foreign ministers, Majid Takht-Ravanchi (L) and Abbas Araqchi (C) meet EU political director, Helga Schmid, in Vienna on Jan. 10. Iranian deputy foreign ministers, Majid Takht-Ravanchi (L) and Abbas Araqchi (C) meet EU political director, Helga Schmid, in Vienna on Jan. 10.

A high-level international commission that oversees the 2015 nuclear deal convened on Tuesday to address Iran's complaint over the extension of a US sanctions law for another 10 years.

A US bill to renew the Iran Sanctions Act won unanimous congressional approval and became law last month without requiring a presidential signature, IRNA reported.

ISA was first adopted in 1996 to target Iran's energy sector and would expire by the end of 2016, if it were not renewed.

The meeting, held in Vienna, Austria, at the request of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, was co-chaired by his deputy for legal and international affairs, Abbas Araqchi, and EU political director, Helga Schmid.

Schmid and Araqchi and another Iranian deputy foreign minister, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, held talks hours before the meeting of the Joint Commission, a panel of representatives from all parties to the historic pact tasked with monitoring it and addressing issues that arise from its implementation.

Top Iranian officials have railed against ISA, denouncing it as a violation of the accord, which was negotiated between Iran and the six powers and put in place a year ago to lift international sanctions in return for curtailing Tehran's nuclear program. They have threatened to retaliate.

***No Toleration for Violations

"We will not tolerate that a state party to the JCPOA violates its commitments under various pretexts. The Islamic Republic of Iran will provide appropriate response to such moves," Araqchi told IRNA on Monday.  

Iran's nuclear deal is officially known as JCPOA, which stands for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Delegations from the US and Iran, the main parties to the ISA dispute, had discussed the issue at the level of experts on Monday, following a meeting at the same level between all seven parties to the agreement.

Based on the dispute resolution mechanism envisaged in the deal, Iran can take its grievances to the Joint Commission and if the issue remains unresolved, to foreign ministers of the parties to the accord and finally to an advisory board, which would consist of three members, one independent and the other two appointed by each of the participants in the dispute.

If the issue is still not resolved and Iran deems it as constituting a breach of the nuclear deal, it could treat it as grounds to cease performing its commitments in whole or in part and/or notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes a significant non-performance.

In response to the US sanctions move, President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to start developing systems for setting up a nuclear-powered marine system and the fuel to power it.

Rouhani has tasked Zarif with using the deal's mechanism to counter any breach committed by the other side to the accord and report to him monthly.

A committee on the action plan under the Supreme National Security Council that comprises top Iranian officials convened on December 7 to decide how to respond to the US legislation.

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