Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he seeks a “clearer image” of the future of a key nuclear agreement Tehran signed with the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 after the US withdrawal from the agreement.
In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing on Sunday, Zarif expressed hope that with this visit to China and other countries within the next two days, the sides would be able to depict a clearer vision of the nuclear deal’s future.
Zarif launched a diplomatic tour early on Sunday designed to try and rescue the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), after US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the agreement.
Trump also said that he would reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
Iran has said it would remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision on its future role in the agreement.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement about the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would stay in the deal with other signatories.
Adding that Trump’s decision was a historic experience for Iran, he said that the US president had a history of undermining international treaties.
During talks with the Chinese foreign minister, Zarif pointed to good relations between Tehran and Beijing after the JCPOA implementation started in 2016, adding, “We are confident that China will stand by Iran.”
“China and Iran have comprehensive strategic partnership and are trade partners and these relations still continue,” he noted.
The top Chinese diplomat, for his part, hoped that Zarif’s visit would lead to important achievements to salvage the JCPOA and protect Iran’s interests.
Zarif began his diplomatic tour on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s order to sound out Europe and other parties to the JCPOA about the possibility of keeping the deal in place. Iran wants the Europeans to give it clear-cut guarantees about fulfilling their obligations if Tehran remains in the accord.
The Iranian foreign minister will later fly to Moscow and Brussels to consult with his Russian, British, French and German counterparts as well as EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.
The European Union’s diplomatic chief said on Tuesday that the bloc was “determined to preserve” the Iran nuclear deal.
The 2015 agreement “is delivering on its goal, which is guaranteeing that Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons, the European Union is determined to preserve it,” Mogherini said, warning that she was “particularly worried” by the US’ announcement of fresh sanctions.
A senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that the United States stands to suffer the most after its move to withdraw from the JCPOA.
Speaking to reporters, Ali Akbar Velayati, the Leader’s advisor on international affairs, said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran fully protects its independence and will by no means bow to their (Americans’) bullying and we have proved this over the past 40 years.”
The Kremlin said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had reaffirmed their commitment to preserving the landmark nuclear agreement despite the US move to pull out of it.