Key JCPOA Players: Uphold the Deal

Jeffrey FeltmanJeffrey Feltman

The United Nations, the European Union and key players in the Iran nuclear agreement delivered a united message on Wednesday aimed at the then US president-elect, Donald Trump: The deal is working and must be maintained to ensure Tehran's nuclear program remains peaceful.

Tehran denies the allegation that its nuclear activities may have had military aspects, stressing the program has always been for civilian purposes. 

Speaker after speaker at a UN Security Council meeting on the implementation of the 2015 deal stressed its historic nature and its success after its first year, the AP reported. 

The agreement was negotiated by Iran and six world powers—the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—and enshrined in a legally binding UN resolution. It imposed limits on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for lifting UN, US and EU economic sanctions.

While Trump was not mentioned by name, their messages were clearly intended for the new US leader who took office on Friday and has strongly criticized the Iran deal, vowing at times during the presidential campaign either to walk away from it or to renegotiate it.

UN political chief, Jeffrey Feltman, told the council the nuclear agreement "is a good example of how multilateral diplomacy, political will and perseverance can resolve the most complex issues".

"It is imperative that its participants, the United Nations and the broader international community continue to support the full implementation of this historic multilateral agreement for its full duration," he said. 

"It's comprehensive and sustained implementation guarantees that Iran's nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful."

EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who facilitated the agreement, praised the deal as "a major achievement" and said all participants have fulfilled their commitments, citing "a staggering 63%" rise in EU-Iran trade in the first three quarters of 2016 as one example of the results of lifting sanctions.

But Mogherini stressed in a statement read by the EU ambassador to the UN that "implementation is an ongoing task and we expect full and effective implementation throughout the lifetime of the agreement". Some limits on Tehran's nuclear activities start to expire in less than a decade.

***Hard-Nosed Diplomacy

US Ambassador Samantha Power, in possibly her final speech in the Security Council, said the agreement "shows the life-and-death importance of hard-nosed diplomacy".

The deal is working, she stressed, pointing to its achievements: Iran's plutonium reactor core at Arak is now filled with concrete. The UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran has dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges and shipped out 98% of its enriched uranium. Its remaining uranium is under continuous watch.

At the last meeting of the commission monitoring implementation of the agreement on Jan. 10, all sides reaffirmed their commitment to the deal. But future US support remains in question.

US ex-president, Barack Obama, has warned the Trump administration that the accord cannot easily be undone and is preferable to war.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told reporters on Tuesday the deal is beneficial to the United States, but Trump "doesn't understand this". He dismissed Trump's remarks as "mainly slogans", saying, "I do not see it as likely that something happens in practice."

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