Iran says it could withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if the “atmosphere of uncertainty” created by the new US administration continues to prevent Tehran from reaping the benefits of the multilateral accord, particularly in the business and banking sectors.
Speaking at Britain’s Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi criticized US President Donald Trump over his decision to stop waiving anti-Iran sanctions unless the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is changed.
“If the same policy of confusion and uncertainties about the JCPOA continues, if companies and banks are not working with Iran, we cannot remain in a deal that has no benefit for us,” he said. “Trump has created an atmosphere of uncertainty which is like a poison for the business community in working with Iran.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Trump has repeatedly described the nuclear deal, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign, and threatened to tear it up.
The US president on January 12 reluctantly agreed to waive sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the landmark deal, but said it would be the last time he issued such a waiver unless conditions were met.
The US president said he wanted America’s European allies to use the 120-day period before sanctions relief again came up for renewal to agree to tougher measures and new conditions, otherwise Washington will no more extend the sanctions relief.
Araqchi further said, “The deal would not survive this way even if the ultimatum is passed and waivers are extended.”
Araqchi rejected Washington’s interpretation of the “sunset” clause in the JCPOA as wrong.
“There is no sunset clause in the JCPOA. Although the US administration and Trump are talking about sunset clause and that JCPOA is just for 10 years, that is not true,” he said. “Iran’s commitment in the JCPOA not to go for the nuclear weapons is permanent.”
Trump’s administration has been upset at the deal’s sunset clause, which it says sets an expiration date for the limits on the Iranian nuclear activities after which Iran will be free to develop a nuclear weapon.
However, under the JCPOA, the monitoring of Iranian nuclear activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will technically not expire. Iran and its negotiating partners agreed under the deal that if the agreement is fully implemented by all sides, Tehran will in eight years ratify the Additional Protocol at its Parliament.
“Although the US administration and Trump are talking about sunset clause and that JCPOA is just for 10 years, that is not true,” he said.