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FM Zarif: US behavior prompted Iran to take steps away from JCPOA

Iran’s foreign minister has reiterated that the United States’ actions were the main reason prompting his country to suspend its commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement, urging Washington to lift its illegal sanctions to “remove the cause” of the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“US admits that only after it ‘left the JCPOA, Iran has taken steps away’ while until then ‘Iran was living up to its limits,’” Zarif argued via Twitter, using the nuclear deal’s acronym.

The foreign minister was drawing on recent remarks by US State Department spokesman Ned Price, who admitted that Iran remained compliant with the JCPOA before the deal was ditched by former US President Donald Trump.

“That US behavior—the CAUSE—has not changed,” Zarif said.

Zarif also took to task the three European signatories to the JCPOA – the UK, Germany and France – for having followed suit with the US sanctions policy against Iran and cutting business ties with Tehran for the past three years.

He then advised the US and three European countries that if they want Iran to reverse its remedial actions taken under Article 36 of the JCPOA and return to full commitments under the JCPOA, they must remove the cause of Iran’s measures instead of asking Iran to stop its remedial steps.

US admits that only after it “left the JCPOA, Iran has taken steps away” while until then” Iran was living up to its limits”

That US behavior—the CAUSE—has not changed

E3 also culpable-no business w/Iran for 3 yrs

US/E3 must remove the cause, NOT ask Iran to stop ¶36 remedies pic.twitter.com/dWK9P0C2xG— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 25, 2021

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, Price acknowledged that Iran was abiding by the JCPOA before the US withdrawal, and took steps away from the accord only after the ill-judged measure.

“The IAEA, while the Iran deal, while the JCPOA was in full effect, while Iran was abiding by it, they expressed confidence that Iran was living up to its limits,” he said, adding, “I suspect if you go and ask them (the IAEA), they will tell you that they were satisfied by Iran’s compliance with the deal. Iran was complying with the deal.”

Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA in May 2018, referring to it as the “worst deal ever,” while Iran was in full compliance with the deal and remained so even a year after the US withdrawal. The former hawkish US president reimposed sanctions on Iran to force it to renegotiate a “better deal.” 

Iran, in response, waited a year for the other parties to the deal – the three European countries in particular – to offset US sanctions and protect Tehran’s interests. But as the so-called E3 failed to take any meaningful measure against US bullying, Iran started to reduce its commitments under the deal, a move which came as part of its legal rights stipulated in Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.

During his campaign for US presidential election, Joe Biden promised to change the US policy toward Iran and return his country to the JCPOA. But he drifted away from that promise after assuming office more than a month ago, and instead, has urged Iran to return to the accord as a precondition for the US return to the pact. 

The E3 was quick to come to support Washington’s new stance and put the blame on Iran for its alleged delay in returning to full compliance with the deal. Iran is angry at them for trying to shift the blame for the current impasse. 

EU says strongly committed to JCPOA, concerned about Iran’s steps

Zarif’s remarks came on the same day that the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, issued a statement on behalf of the bloc expressing EU’s “strong commitment” to the JCPOA.

“We are determined to continue working with the international community to preserve the JCPOA and ensure its full implementation,” Borrell said.

The EU foreign policy chief, however, expressed deep concern over “Iran’s decision to suspend the provisional application of the Additional Protocol,” claiming that this decision will substantially restrict the IAEA’s verification ability while limiting its “access to information on key facilities.”

The EU statement also welcomed “the prospect of a US return to the JCPOA and Iran’s return to full JCPOA implementation,” adding that the bloc acknowledges “the issues connected to the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the agreement and the re-imposition of sanctions by it.”

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