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UNSC meeting: Members back Vienna talks aimed at JCPOA revival as US urged to remove Iran sanctions

The United Nations Security Council holds a meeting to discuss the secretary general’s report on the implementation of Resolution 2231 endorsing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as it backs the Vienna talks aimed at reviving the agreement that was abandoned by Washington.

The Wednesday session is the first meeting of the UN Security Council since the coronavirus pandemic, in which representatives of the participant countries are attending in person but in limited delegations.

AntonioGuterres urged the United States to “lift or waive its sanctions” on Iran as agreed under the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in a report presented to the Security Council and the message was reiterated in a debate at the body by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.

He also urged the US to “extend the waivers with regard to the trade in oil with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects.”

The biannual report by Guterres was released before the meeting and on the eve of the seventh round of the Vienna talks.

In the Wednesday meeting, DiCarlo reiterated that the United Nations wants to see the end of the sanctions as agreed in the nuclear deal, an extension of the exemptions for the sale of Iran’s oil and the facilitation of nuclear activities allowed under the deal.

As the UN chief has stated, she said, these steps are “necessary” for a return to the full implementation of the JCPOA and to give the Iranian population the “tangible benefits” provided for in the agreement.

At the same time, DiCarlo called on Iran to halt its countermeasures in suspending some of its commitments under the JCPOA and to keep cooperating with the UN nuclear agency tasked with verifying Tehran’s implementation of its commitments.

Moreover, she said that the Vienna talks offer a “key opportunity” for the US and Iran to come to a mutual return to the JCPOA, which she said was of great importance and was welcome.  

Meanwhile, the European Union, which chairs the Vienna talks, called for urgent progress and urged both sides to take advantage of the “limited diplomatic window” that is open to ensure all parties return to compliance with the agreement.     

“It is clear that time is not on our side and that what might be possible still today may prove impossible in the near future. We have a limited diplomatic window ahead of us that we should not miss,” EU Ambassador to the United Nations Olof Skoog told the Security Council.

He said that the bloc also welcomed the United States’ declared “readiness” to lift the Iran sanctions tied to the nuclear deal.

The European Union remains fully committed to the JCPOA and is determined to continue working with the international community to preserve it, he noted.

Also, China’s Deputy UN Ambassador Geng Shuang called on the United States to respond to Iran’s request for a guarantee that it would not again quit the deal.

Meanwhile, in an apparent move to shift blame, the US envoy said that his country is committed to ensuring “Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.”

“We believe diplomacy, in coordination with our allies and regional partners, is the best path to achieve that goal,” deputy US Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, told the session.

On the Vienna talks, he said, “The last few rounds of discussions in Vienna have helped to crystallize the choices that need to be made by Iran and by the United States in order achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA.”

Since April, the remaining signatories to the JCPOA have been holding talks in the Austrian capital aimed at reviving the landmark deal that was ditched by former US president Donald Trump.

Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has expressed a willingness to return Washington to the deal but is dragging his feet in removing the sanctions, a prerequisite for the US return to compliance with the agreement.

Iran says it needs assurances that all sanctions are removed verifiably and that the US will not once again withdraw from the deal.

This is while the US says Iran should first suspend it remedial measures taken in response to reimposition of sanctions and contractual violations.

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