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Foreign Ministry Downplays Western Working Groups on JCPOA

Foreign Ministry Downplays Western Working Groups on JCPOAForeign Ministry Downplays Western Working Groups on JCPOA

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson played down western reports about the European powers setting up joint working groups with the US on the Iran nuclear deal, saying it has never been formally acknowledged by Europeans.

Responding to a question regarding the reports in a regular presser on Monday, Bahram Qasemi said, "We have no information of the working groups you mentioned and we have not been formally informed on this in our contacts with the European Union."

"What is important to us is the official policies of EU members, not what is claimed by western media," he was quoted as saying by ISNA.

Late last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said working groups on fixing what the US sees as flaws in the Iranian nuclear deal have begun to meet, trying to determine the scope of what is needed and how much Iran needs to be engaged in it.

Tillerson, ending a week-long European trip in Warsaw, claimed he had secured support from Britain, France, and Germany—all parties to the 2015 agreement—to work on the deal that US President Donald Trump has warned he will walk away from unless changes are made.

"The working groups have already begun to meet on efforts to agree principles, what is the scope of what we attempt to address and also how much we engage Iran on discussions to address these issues," Tillerson told journalists.

There has been no official confirmation of Tillerson's claim from the three European nations as yet.  

***Disgruntled US

Qasemi said the Islamic Republic's improved engagement with Europe and the region in the wake of the nuclear pact has unsettled the United States, Iran's arch foe.

"What is certain is that the Americans are not happy with Iran's relations with regional countries and the European Union… and are attempting to put pressure on other countries to fall in line with the [US] interests."

Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, The nuclear deal gave Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its atomic program.

Trump vowed to stop waiving US sanctions unless the Europeans agreed to strengthen the JCPOA's terms by consenting to a side agreement that would effectively eliminate provisions that allow Iran to gradually resume some advanced atomic work.

Trump also wants tighter restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program and regional clout.

Iran has rejected any renegotiation, as have the Europeans.

They argue that the deal is working, citing reports of the UN nuclear agency that all attest to Iran's full commitment.

But Washington's European partners have signaled support for its call to contain Tehran's missile and regional activities.

It has also been reported in western media that the three are likely to present a package of measures to the United States to allay Trump's concerns about Iran without reopening the 2015 nuclear accord.

The alleged new strategy could include threatening Iran with targeted economic sanctions if it does not agree to curtail its ballistic weapons arsenal as well as pressuring Tehran into changing its regional policy.

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