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UN Chief Warns Against Endangering JCPOA

A UN spokesman says the nuclear deal constitutes a major achievement of diplomacy, which has contributed to regional and international peace and security
Antonio GuterresAntonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday that any issues not directly related to the Iran nuclear deal should be addressed "without prejudice to preserving the agreement," his spokesman said.

US President Donald Trump said on Jan. 12 that European allies and the US Congress have to work with him to fix "the disastrous flaws" in the nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or face a US exit. Trump wants it strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.

Most UN and western sanctions on Iran were lifted under the nuclear deal. However, Iran is still subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear deal.

"The [nuclear deal] constitutes a major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on the second anniversary of the implementation of the deal between Iran and world powers, Reuters reported.

Guterres called for concerns relating to the implementation of the nuclear deal "to be addressed through the mechanisms established by the agreement," Dujarric said.

The parties to the nuclear deal created a joint commission to handle any complaints of breaches. If the complaining state is not satisfied with how the commission addresses its concerns, it can then take its complaint to the UN Security Council.

If the Security Council receives a complaint of a breach, it would then need to vote within 30 days on a resolution to extend sanctions relief. If it fails to vote, the sanctions would be automatically reimposed.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will "shred" the deal if Washington pulls out.

The US administrations of both Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama, together with European allies, have also raised concerns over ballistic missile tests carried out by Iran.

Under a UN resolution enshrining the nuclear deal, Iran is also "called upon" to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years. Some states argue that language does not make it obligatory.    

Iran has denied that it has missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Senior US administration officials said last week that Trump will work with European partners on a follow-on agreement that enshrines certain triggers that Iran cannot exceed related to ballistic missiles.

  Alarming Message

At a Thursday UN Security Council meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that if the Iran nuclear agreement fails, it would send an "alarming" message to the international community.

Lavrov was speaking to a council meeting on confidence-building measures to tackle the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"Clearly the failure of the JCPOA, especially as a result of one of the parties ... would be an alarming message for the entire international community architecture, including the prospects for dealing with the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula," Lavrov said, RFE/RL reported citing western news agencies.

In a veiled message to the Trump administration, the Russian minister added, "We cannot for the benefit of political agendas of certain countries abandon a genuine achievement of international diplomacy."

Earlier this week in Moscow, Lavrov said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not agree to give up nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting sanctions if the same arrangement with Tehran collapsed. Although the United States has suspended sanctions against Iran following the nuclear agreement, it still imposes punitive measures over issues such as ballistic missile development and alleged human rights abuses.

Tehran has ruled out any changes in the deal, while the other signatories—Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia—have closed ranks in support of the accord. In his address to the Security Council, the UN chief said it was in the world's interest that the agreement "be preserved".

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said North Korea is continuing "its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons ... while its people starve."

Haley described Iran as "the leading cause of instability in an unstable part of the world," claiming that it supports "terrorists and proxy militants".

Iran denies western charges about its "destabilizing" role in the region, stressing that it backs its allies in their campaigns against terrorism and the Israeli regime. 

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