Russia Urges US to Show Commitment to JCPOA by Lifting Sanctions on Iran

Russia Urges US to Show Commitment to JCPOA by Lifting Sanctions on Iran

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Russia is proposing a synchronized approach to Washington for saving the 2015 nuclear deal and urges the Biden administration to start lifting the freeze on Iranian assets and oil exports, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

Russia sees a chance to resurrect the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and is proposing a synchronized approach including “concrete” steps by the Biden administration to help Iran and the US break their deadlock, the country’s top negotiator said.

“There’s a chance now that hasn’t existed for a long time,” Ryabkov said in an interview Wednesday in Moscow. “We have to try and use it.”

US President Joe Biden has offered to participate in talks between Iran and major powers to revive the accord abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018, but the two sides remain at odds over who should act first. As a starting point, Iran wants the US to lift sanctions that Trump reimposed, stifling oil exports and hurting the economy. Biden wants the Islamic Republic to first resume its compliance with the multilateral agreement that seeks to curb its nuclear program.

Ryabkov said the US could show its commitment to rejoin the nuclear deal by starting to lift the freeze on Iranian assets and oil exports, while Iran should gradually restore its compliance with the agreement.

Talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- China, Russia, France, the UK, the US and Germany -- could take place as soon as next month, Ryabkov said, adding that he sees the currently incompatible Iranian and US positions as merely “points of departure” for negotiation.

Moscow has a detailed plan whereby Washington and Tehran would take synchronized steps to gradually return to their obligations under the pact without either side losing face, he said. 

Ryabkov said both governments had shown interest in the idea.

Iran has restricted snap international inspections of its nuclear sites, providing access only for an additional three-month period under an arrangement with the UN atomic watchdog announced Sunday.

Ryabkov said he did not share concerns that the Iranians were close to developing a nuclear weapon though it was also important that Tehran “reverse gears on enrichment, on the centrifuges.”

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khameneni on Monday said Iran is not after production of nuclear weapons.

"We are not after nuclear weapons. This is based on Islamic fundamentals and commands that prohibit weapons that are used for killing ordinary people. The one that massacres 220,000 people with nuclear weapons is the US," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He also emphasized, “Of course, Iran will not stay limited to an enrichment of 20%. And there is the possibility of increasing enrichment up to 60% in accordance with the country's needs.”

Ryabkov further said that the Biden administration’s steps towards the deal with Iran have not been sufficient as it needs to take concrete steps to return to full implementation and it can start by lifting anti-Iran sanctions, as well as issuing waivers for oil exports and allowing access to Iranian holdings frozen in third-country banks.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 between Iran and the six world states and was ratified in the form of Resolution 2231, but in 2018 the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear pact as his administration pursued a “maximum pressure” strategy against Tehran.

The remaining European parties also failed to fulfill their end of the bargain and compensate for Washington’s absence. Since then, Iran has begun to take its own measures in response to the Western parties’ refusal to meet commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran measures to reduce its commitment under JCPOA have been within the framework of the nuclear deal and will not mean withdrawal from it.

However, Tehran has expressed its readiness to reverse the suspension of its commitments only if the US returns to the nuclear deal and lifts all sanctions without any preconditions or if the European co-signatories manage to protect business ties with Iran against Washington’s sanctions as part of their contractual obligations.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran will honor its JCPOA commitments in full if the US fulfills all of its undertakings, adding, while the rhetoric has changed in Washington, there has been no practical shift in the United States’ policies toward Iran.

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