| 21 February 2024, Wednesday |

Zarif: Iran nuclear deal not renegotiable; sanctions must be lifted

In a Friday meeting between Zarif and High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey, the two sides discussed the latest developments pertaining to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as negotiations are underway in the Austrian capital of Vienna between Iran and the remaining parties to the agreement on its revival. The United States unilaterally abandoned the deal in 2018.

Zarif said the Iranian nation has a “bitter experience” of the US violation of its commitments under former President Donald Trump and expressed hope that the current Vienna talks would yield results.

Representatives of Iran and the other five signatories to the nuclear agreement, namely Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, have been engaged in the Vienna process since early April with the purpose of finding ways to bring the United States back to the deal and prepare the ground for its full implementation.

A US delegation is also in the Austrian capital, but it is not attending the discussions because the United States is not a party to the nuclear accord.

Trump abandoned the deal and reimposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the JCPOA had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories, and suspend some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy program.

Now, the new US administration says it wants to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it is showing an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.

Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.

For his part, Borrell expressed hope that the Vienna negotiations would be constructive.