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Full return to JCPOA compliance, first vital step for US to make up for past mistakes: Iran FM

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has once again reiterated that the United States’ full return to its obligations under a 2015 nuclear deal, which was abandoned by former US president Donald Trump, is the “first necessary step” that Washington should take to make up for its violations of the multilateral agreement.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Saturday that Zarif had sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on March 12 explaining the Islamic Republic’s stance on the latest developments surrounding the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Zarif’s letter to Borrell expounds on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s stance and does not include any plan,” he added.

The Iranian spokesperson said that in the letter to the coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission, Zarif has emphasized that “if the United States intends to make up for its measures in violation of the JCPOA and the imposition of cruel sanctions [on Iran], the first necessary step would be [for Washington] to fully return to compliance [with the JCPOA] as the violating party.”

He noted that the Iranian foreign minister has previously sent many similar letters to Borrell and former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on the JCPOA.

Khatibzadeh made the remarks after some media outlets reported that in his letter to Borrell, the top Iranian diplomat has criticized the positions of the new US administration and the European sides to the JCPOA regarding the deal.

It has also been claimed that Zarif has told Borrell that if the other parties to the nuclear deal fulfill their obligations, Iran would also stop its measures taken based on Article 36 of the JCPOA in response to the US withdrawal from the deal in 2018.

The fate of the JCPOA, signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany — after years of diplomacy and intensive negotiations, remains unclear mainly due to the US measures, including its reimpostion of sanctions on Tehran.

Despite throwing verbal support behind the JCPOA, the European parties to the deal have ultimately succumbed to Washington’s pressure and failed to fulfill their contractual commitments to Tehran.

That promoted Tehran to begin a set of retaliatory measures in several stages as part of its legal rights stipulated in Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. The latest such measure was the halt in the implementation of the Additional Protocol, which was required by the parliament-adopted law.

Joe Biden, the current president of the United States, has spoken of a willingness to return his country to the Iran deal, but, in practice, his administration has so far been sticking with Trump’s futile pressure campaign. Washington says Tehran should return to full compliance with the deal before the US does so.

Iran says the US needs to take the first step to lift the bans to prove its good will as it was Washington that quit the agreement in total disregard for the international law.

Iranian officials say if Iran can verify the sanctions removal, it will stop its measures taken based on Article 36 of the JCPOA.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday that the US must honor its commitments and lift sanctions on Iran if it seeks a diplomatic end to the stalemate surrounding the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement.

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