Anti-Iranian sanctions not discussed at meeting on nuclear deal — Russian senior diplomat

Anti-Iranian sanctions not discussed at meeting on nuclear deal — Russian senior diplomat

The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal are not looking to impose anti-Iranian sanctions in response to its reduction of commitments under the deal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday, Trend reports citing TASS.

The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) met on Friday in Vienna ahead of the expiration date of the 60-day deadline set by Tehran for other parties to the deal.

"As for the sanctions, we spoke about absolutely different things, with an opposite sign," Ryabkov said. "The question was not in imposing some additional sanctions. It was about how to secure maximum efficiency from the European Union’s decision to drop the sanctions that was passed [after the nuclear deal was struck in 2015] in conformity with its internal procedure," he added.

The sanctions were lifted long ago, but "the Iranians have all the grounds to lament that the pecuniary effect from the lifting of the European Union’s sanctions is not felt to a significant extent," Ryabkov noted.

"When the conversation proceeds in this mode, it is at least untimely, unethical and wrong to speak about the re-imposition of sanctions," he stressed.

Iran's commitments under JCPOA

Ryabkov noted that Iran has left open options concerning further steps towards the implementation of the quantitative commitments under the nuclear deal.

"Iran has dropped nothing from its position and left the options open. But the most important thing is that we have common commitment of all the nations to keep the agreements in place and implement all their aspects," Ryabkov said when asked whether Iran has agreed to observe qualitative parameters of uranium enrichment and storage.

According to the Russian senior diplomat, Teheran has reiterated that it will not seek to revise the nuclear deal’s elements. "Not a single element of the Iranian position, in a way it has been stated by that country’s leaders, including publicly and not only publicly, the position that envisages Iran’s possible gradual scaling down of its commitments voluntarily undertaken under the JCPOA, has been dropped or revised. The Iranian colleague, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, confirmed that it is applicable to the reactor at Arak as well."

"The very existence of this regime and Iran’s strict compliance with it gives a 100% guarantee that this country has no undeclared material and is not engaged in undeclared activities," Ryabkov stressed.

"If our efforts, despite the current positive background and the general attitude that was clearly worded — to continue to work this way — if these efforts yield no result, if a new failure happens, Iran will naturally get back to the former pattern it has expressed in a term ‘less for less,’" he said.

"All the fuss about how many kilograms of material Iran has, which degree of enrichment is reached, this fuss has been made somewhat artificially during the talks," he said. "The background of this rests on some sort of calculations made mostly by the United States about how much time country X hypothetically needs to create conditions for the so-called weapons breakthrough, i.e. a breakthrough to a weapons technology. This is a vexed question."

Next ministerial meeting

Ryabkov also noted that the date for the meeting of ministers of member states in the Iranian nuclear deal will be determined soon. "There is no concrete date yet," Ryabkov said. "Coordinating the ministers' schedules is always a difficult task. But I want to remind you that some time ago, when we were entering the current situation around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, the question of holding a session of the commission at the level of ministers was already raised. Back then, the Russian side confirmed readiness to take part in such a session at the level of ministers," he added.

"Our position remains the same. Work will continue on determining the possible date for such an event. However, it is a fact that such session is needed, and everyone agreed with this assessment at today's session," Ryabkov noted.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi earlied said that participants in the Vienna talks agreed to hold a meeting of the joint commission on JCPOA at the level of ministers in the nearest future.

Situation around JCPOA

The JCPOA, also known as the Iranian nuclear deal, was signed between Iran and six international mediators (the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, the United States, and France) in July 2015. Under the deal, Iran undertook commitments to curb its nuclear activities and place them under total control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange of abandonment of the sanctions imposed previously by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the United States over its nuclear program.

On May 8, 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed economic sanctions seeking to stop Iranian oil exports.

On May 8, 2019, or exactly a year after the United States’ withdrawal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared he was suspending some of Iran’s obligations under the JCPOA. In part, he said that Tehran would resume uranium enrichment and terminate the conversion of the heavy water reactor at Arak, if the signatories to the deal fail to comply with the conditions of the agreement, including those concerning banking and oil trade, within a 60-day deadline.

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