Speaking in a meeting with government officials in the southwestern city of Yasuj on Monday, Rouhani said the government could have reached a deal in the course of nuclear negotiations “much sooner” but was after eliminating the bases for the sanctions, which he implied was the reason why the talks took more time, IRNA reported.
Negotiators with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the head, talked to representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, France, and China (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) plus Germany, known as the P5+1, for some 22 months before striking an agreement, which is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to limit some of its nuclear activities and provide international monitors with enhanced access to its facilities in return for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In his Monday's remarks, the president said his government also succeeded in removing the foundations used to impose the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, explaining that the bases for the sanctions were derived from Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, as well as the issue of the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) of the Iranian nuclear program at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
He said some people were of the opinion that the UN Security Council resolutions, which had been adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, could not be removed in a single day, “but we had them annulled in one day and before implementing the JCPOA.”
The resolutions Rouhani was referring to were all lifted through the adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 2231 on July 20, 2015 to endorse the JCPOA, some six months before the deal itself started being implemented by the sides.
The Iranian nuclear case exiting Chapter VII “means that... one basis for the sanctions has been removed,” Rouhani said.
He said other countries whose cases had been adopted under Chapter VII were either invaded militarily or were subjected to devastating sanctions regimes.
He said the PMD issue, the other basis for the nuclear-related bans on Iran, was also resolved through the course of negotiations.
“The IAEA has now officially declared that it has no questions about Iran’s nuclear past and that its main questions have to do with the future and the issue of the JCPOA,” President Rouhani said.
The IAEA has been tasked with monitoring the technical aspects of the Iran-P5+1 deal.
On December 15, 2015, the IAEA Board of Governors passed by consensus a resolution that ended the agency’s 12-year investigation into the outstanding past and present issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“Twelve [IAEA] resolutions against Iran were lifted in a single day, which is cause for pride on the part of the Iranian nation and its diplomats,” the Iranian president said.
“Not a single Iranian nuclear scientist was disrespected and no one could interview [even] one [Iranian] nuclear scientist about Iran’s nuclear activities,” said President Rouhani.
The nuclear talks had been going on for over some 12 years before the JCPOA was struck. Iran’s original negotiating partners at the time the talks first started were the UK, France and Germany, a group known back in 2003 as the E3.
The talks gained greater momentum under the government of President Rouhani, who tasked the Foreign Ministry — under Zarif’s watch — with handling the talks soon after assuming office in 2013.