Russia suggests Washington, Tehran act simultaneously
Iran once again stressed that it is the US that should take the first step in order to resolve the issues surrounding the 2015 nuclear deal, urging Washington to stop “spouting off” amid growing inconsistencies on the American side.
“It’s impossible [for Iran] to take the initiative to make concessions,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with China’s Phoenix Television broadcast on Wednesday, according to Press TV.
Zarif was reaffirming Iran’s position on the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was abandoned in May 2018 by former US president Donald Trump, in pursuit of what he called the “maximum pressure” policy on Iran.
Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA has been strongly criticized by US Democrats, including President Joe Biden, who, prior to the November presidential elections, promised to re-enter the deal but has so far reneged on his promise.
“I feel that the Americans have not yet decided on their policies. That’s why the White House had to correct Mr. Biden’s remarks many times,” said Zarif, a week after Biden said in an interview with CBS that he would not lift sanctions in order to encourage Iran to return to the negotiating table.
In similar remarks in a tweet on Thursday, Zarif said Biden’s America remains in exactly the same position as Trump’s America. He also urged the US to comply with the deal instead of “spouting off”.
Following the US pullout from the JCPOA, Iran waited a whole year for the other parties to the deal – namely, the UK, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – to protect its interests as promised in the historic agreement. But as they failed to do so, Iran began to scale down its commitments under the deal in May 2019.
However, Tehran has repeatedly insisted that it will return to full compliance once the other parties, especially the US, honor their commitments.
Elsewhere in the interview, Zarif said it is patently obvious that Washington is violating international rules.
“It is obvious who should abandon such policies, which are in violation of international rules, and lift all these sanctions,” he added.
Zarif then clarified his recent remarks on the role EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell can play in order to save the JCPOA.
He said while the US should take action to remove sanctions, it should also be reassured that Iran would return to compliance with the JCPOA. “And for that to take place, we have a mechanism in the JCPOA called the Joint Commission, which has a chairman called Mr. Borrell, and Mr. Borrell can do this.”
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour earlier this month, Zarif said Borrell could prevent the issue from reaching an impasse by coordinating a synchronized US return into the nuclear pact and Tehran’s full compliance with it.
During his Wednesday interview, the top Iranian diplomat said Iran is currently waiting to see whether the new US administration would return to the JCPOA, noting that, “This would be a test for the Americans.”
“When we see the result of the test, any administration that would be in power at the time, would decide how to proceed,” he said.
“So far, we have heard nothing but words, and not all the words have been positive,” Zarif remarked.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia hopes for the US to abandon its illegal stance of staying out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and retaining its sanctions against the Islamic Republic in order not to prompt Tehran to further reduce its obligations under the agreement.
“There isn’t a lot of time, considering that, on February 21, in accordance with the law adopted by Iran, the country will take the next step toward reducing its obligations, which were accepted voluntarily. It would be good to find some compromise that would help avoid further escalation before that deadline,” Ryabkov told a press conference.
The priority is to reverse the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord as well as Washington’s sanctions against Iran, he said.
He, meanwhile, suggested that Washington and Tehran act simultaneously to avoid arguments over who should act first.
“We understand the logic of their actions and the reasons prompting Iran. Despite this, it is necessary to show restraint and a responsible approach,” Ryabkov told Russia’s RIA Novosti News Agency.