Iran, P5+1 to meet in January over US bans renewal
A high-level commission monitoring the implementation of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers plans to meet in Vienna on January 10 to discuss the recent move by the United States to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).
The meeting was called on Saturday by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who coordinates the follow-up to the nuclear agreement for its signatories.
“The meeting will review the implementation of the agreement and discuss the issues raised in the letter [Iranian] Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif addressed on 16 December to (Mogherini),” a short statement from the EU said on Saturday.
The meeting between representatives of Iran and the P5+1 countries will come 10 days before the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to tear up the nuclear deal once in the White House.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany started implementing the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in January.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
After the implementation of the JCPOA in January, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed Iran’s commitment to its undertakings under the deal in several reports.
In his visit to Tehran on December 18, the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano expressed satisfaction with Iran’s compliance with its obligations.
In his official letter to the EU foreign policy chief, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran and the P5+1 group of countries needed to hold a joint commission meeting to address the renewal of ISA against Tehran.
Zarif had stressed that all sides needed to fulfill their commitments stipulated in the deal as the JCPOA was a multilateral agreement.
On December 1, the US Senate voted to extend ISA for another 10 years after the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed its bill on November 15. The sanctions law, which would authorize the US president to re-impose sanctions on Iran, was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program and its support for anti-Israeli resistance groups.
US President Barack Obama later declined to sign the bill renewing the existing sanctions against Iran, but allowed the legislation to become law.
Obama argues the act is largely symbolic since its measures are suspended as long as the nuclear deal remains in place.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in late November that the US renewal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic was tantamount to the violation of its commitments under the JCPOA.
The Iranian foreign minister warned on December 3 that the Islamic Republic would halt the implementation of the JCPOA if US sanctions were re-imposed on the country.
“If they (the US) return to sanctions, we will not remain committed to the agreement,” the top Iranian diplomat said.
Furthermore, although hundreds of European companies are desperate to resume trading with Iran according to the JCPOA, major lenders are still refusing to facilitate big transactions due to fear of penalties by Washington.