US Agrees to Respect Nuclear Agreement

The JCPOA Joint Commission’s meeting was very constructive and all the participants reiterated a vow to carry out their obligations
Abbas AraqchiAbbas Araqchi

An Iranian nuclear negotiator said the US administration has reaffirmed commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal "for the time being", despite its accord-bashing rhetoric.

"The Joint Commission's meeting was very good and all the participants reiterated a vow to carry out their obligations, a move that conveyed an important message. The Americans' stance is to uphold JCPOA for the time being," Abbas Araqchi also said on Tuesday.

Araqchi was speaking in an interview with IRNA after a quarterly review session of the agreement with the representatives of other parties.

The commission has been established pursuant to the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the pact is officially known, to oversee it and address any dispute arising from its implementation.

The meeting, which was held at the level of deputy foreign ministers, was the seventh since the deal took effect in January 2016 and first since US President Donald Trump assumed office a year later.

It came against the backdrop of Trump's hostile stance on Iran and the action plan, which has raised concerns over the fate of the deal.

Trump has vehemently criticized the agreement but had stopped short of clearly stating what policy he would pursue on the deal, which lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange for temporary curbs on its nuclear work.

His administration acknowledged last week that Tehran was complying with JCPOA but said it was launching a review of whether lifting remaining sanctions against Iran was in US national security interests.

The US regularly extends the cessation of its sanctions, drawing on the findings of the UN nuclear agency's verification of Iran's compliance as well as its own independent probe.

The next round of such sanctions relief extension is due next month and both the US and the UN have verified Iranian compliance.

  EU Statement

Secretary-general of the European Union's foreign policy service in Brussels, Helga Schmid, who co-chaired the panel's meeting with Araqchi, issued a statement on the website of the European External Action Service.

"The meeting provided the opportunity to address the implementation of JCPOA with regard to nuclear- and sanctions-related commitments. The Joint Commission particularly welcomed the important progress made on the Arak modernization project, where Chinese and Iranian companies signed the first consultancy services contract on Sunday, April 23, in Vienna."

Among the curbs imposed on Iran's nuclear program was the redesign and reconstruction of the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce its output of plutonium, a rare substance that can be used to produce nuclear warheads, an objective Tehran says it has never pursued. China is participating in the design and construction of the modernized reactor and will liaise in the course of the project's implementation between Iran and a working group of the six nations that negotiated JCPOA with Iran, namely the US, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany.

"All participants noted their continued adherence to JCPOA commitments and stressed the need to ensure its full and effective implementation," Schmid added.

Vladimir Voronkov, Moscow's ambassador to UN missions in Vienna, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, told TASS that the six pledged they are ready to continue work toward Iran's complete reintegration into the global economy.

"Participants in the meeting discussed the issue of how to arrange the banking system to enliven economic activities in Iran as the business community demonstrates growing interest in the Iranian market. All arrived at a conclusion that the system is not very flexible and confidence in respect of the business community, both domestic and external, needs to be improved. So, the commission should take additional steps," Voronkov said. Despite the removal of sanctions, Iran expresses frustration that it still remains deprived of the full benefits of the deal mainly because of residual US restrictions that deter overseas banks and firms from the lucrative, but untapped Iranian market.

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