Zarif: Unlawful US sanctions dealt blow to multilateralism

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has once again slammed the US for turning its back on its obligations under the 2015 nuclear agreement, saying Washington has profoundly undermined multilateralism by imposing unlawful sanctions on others.

Speaking in a videoconference call with his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, on Wednesday, Zarif said Washington’s unilateral sanctions, especially those imposed on other countries over the past few years, run counter to the UN Charter and international accords, and have dealt a blow to multilateralism.

He further expressed Iran’s readiness to fully implement the nuclear deal — officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — if the United States lifts its sanctions against the Islamic Republic and returns to compliance with the multilateral agreement.

Iran had met all its obligations since the JCPOA took effect, Zarif said, adding that the country only started reducing its commitments under Article 36 of the accord since it was deprived of the pact’s benefits following the unilateral US withdrawal and Europe’s inability to live up to its obligations.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 between Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — and ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

However, the US under former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the deal.

The Trump administration also targeted Iran with the so-called maximum pressure campaign, subjecting the nation to the “toughest ever” restrictive measures.

The fate of the JCPOA is now hanging in the balance after the European co-signatories — France, Britain and Germany — failed to counter the anti-Iran sanctions as required by the agreement, prompting Tehran to scale back parts of its commitments in retaliation.

Trump’ successor, Joe Biden, has pledged to rejoin the accord if Iran returns to compliance.

On Tuesday, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state Antony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Washington did not face a quick decision on whether to rejoin the JCPOA, saying, “We are a long way from there.”

The top Irish diplomat, for his part, told Zarif that his country considers the JCPOA an important achievement of multilateral diplomacy and intends to play an active role in preserving the accord, given its non-permanent membership of the Security Council and election as the Resolution 2231 facilitator.

He further described Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy as unconstructive, saying it undermined diplomacy.

‘Biden to discuss Iran with foreign partners’

In another development on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Iran will be on the agenda for Biden’s early talks with foreign counterparts and allies.

“The president has made clear that he believes that through follow-on diplomacy, the United States seeks to lengthen and strengthen nuclear constraints on Iran and address other issues of concern. Iran must resume compliance with significant nuclear constraints under the deal in order for that to proceed,” she told a briefing.

“We would expect that some of his earlier conversations with foreign counterparts and foreign leaders will be with partners and allies and you would certainly anticipate that this would be part of the discussions.”

Russia: New US approach towards JCPOA pragmatic

Meanwhile, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said the new US attitude to the Iran nuclear deal is “quite businesslike and pragmatic which means that there are chances of getting ahead.”

Speaking in a televised interview with Rossiya 24 news channel, he referred to a law, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which has recently been approved by the Iranian Parliament (Majlis).

When asked about the potential timeframe of the US return to the JCPOA, Ulyanov replied, “We all urgently need that the first signs of normalization appear in February, since under the law recently passed by Iran’s Majlis.”

“Unless progress is made, as early as on February 21 Tehran is to terminate the appliance of the Additional Protocol and the Safeguards Agreement it signed with the IAEA, and that will dramatically reduce the chances of inspecting the state of affairs in Iran’s nuclear program,” he added.



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