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Iran will restore JCPOA commitments, if US lifts all ‘illegal’ sanctions: President Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the country will return to full implementation of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if the United States removes all “illegal” sanctions it has unilaterally re-imposed on Tehran after quitting the accord.

Rouhani made the remarks in a Monday meeting with visiting Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, stressing the need for the removal of all anti-Iran sanctions imposed by the US and its respect for United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses Iran’s nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Anytime that the United States removes illegal sanctions and returns to law, Iran will immediately return to implementation of all its commitments under the JCPOA,” Rouhani added.

He pointed to the end of Trumpism in the US and the new president’s announcement of different policies, including his intention to return to the JCPOA, and said, “Today, it has been proved to the entire world that the maximum pressure policy has failed and the new US administration has no option but to make up for the mistakes of the previous administration and to fulfill its legal commitments.”

The JCPOA was unilaterally ditched by former US president Donald Trump in May 2018, in pursuit of what he called the “maximum pressure” policy against the Islamic Republic through unilateral sanctions. Iran has denounced the policy as an act of “economic terrorism.”

The US withdrawal from the deal was met with worldwide criticism, and was followed, a year later, by Iran’s gradual reduction of its nuclear commitments. However, Tehran has repeatedly proclaimed that it will return to its nuclear obligations as soon as its interests under the JCPOA are met.

Joe Biden, the current president of the United States, censured Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA during his 2020 campaign. He promised to rejoin the accord, which was signed when Biden was vice president, but has failed to take corrective measures since he assumed office on January 20 and has conditioned a return to the deal on Tehran’s resumption of full compliance with the agreement.

Iran says a potential return of the United States could only be meaningful if Washington removed all of the sanctions.

Elsewhere in the meeting, the Iranian president stressed the importance of promoting Tehran-Doha cooperation given the ongoing circumstances in the region.

Rouhani added that the two countries have enjoyed “very good and expanding” relations during past years while reiterating that they should make use of the existing opportunities to further improve cooperation given the new developments in the international scene. 

He emphasized that every country in the region can make progress once peace and stability is established in the region, welcoming Qatar’s proposal for the beginning of negotiations between Iran and the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council member states in order to patch up differences. 

Rouhani said Iran is still committed to Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) and believes that peace and stability could be achieved in the region only through cooperation, convergence and dialogue among regional countries.

“It is only the regional countries that should make a decision on their destiny,” Iran’s president emphasized.

Addressing a speech at the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2019, Iran’s President Rouhani presented the country’s HOPE initiative to promote security in the Persian Gulf and invited all regional countries to participate in it.

Qatar calls for regional dialogue to solve issues: Al Thani

The Qatari foreign minister, for his part, said Doha always believes in the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region, calling on the regional states to solve issues through negotiations.

He submitted a written message from the Qatari emir to Rouhani, describing Iran as a powerful and influential country in the region. 

Al Thani hoped for the immediate return of the US to the JCPOA and the removal of sanctions, which he said would help the settlement of the existing issues, stressing that Doha would spare no efforts in this regard. 

The Qatari foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Monday at the head of a high-ranking delegation to hold talks with Iranian authorities on bilateral issues and regional and international developments.

In a meeting with his visiting counterpart earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif once again reiterated the Islamic Republic’s principled stance on opposing policies based on bullying, saying Iran and Qatar can help regional states reach stable arrangements to solve their problems.

He said regional countries need to strengthen cooperation and find “stable” arrangements to settle issues in the region, emphasizing that relations between Iran and Qatar can play a leading role to that end.

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