FM: US must observe nuclear deal before any talks
Iran will not renegotiate its part in its nuclear deal with world powers known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but is open to talks with all parties concerned to find ways forward in fulfilling the obligations, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
"We are ready to talk and consult with others on how to best implement this deal. We are talking about Europe coming to comply with its own obligations under the deal," Zarif told Malaysia's official news agency Bernama on Thursday while visiting the country.
He urged other European members of the accord to fully commit to the agreement, adding that Iran “will remain faithful to this deal, to the same extent other members are faithful to this deal."
“If they need to engage with the United States themselves in order to be able to comply with the obligation, then that’s something they would do and Iran would not have any role in it,” the top diplomat said.
Zarif, who was Iran's chief negotiator in the deal, said the accord had been carefully negotiated and that it was impossible to renegotiate the deal.
"We (have) already talked to the US extensively for over two years and we've reached a conclusion ... that was 159-page long... it is a serious agreement, (including) almost all aspects of the nuclear issues as well as the aspect of the US sanctions against Iran,” he said.
Zarif said while Iran is complying with the deal and Russia and China were complying with most of it, other members were not seen to be able to comply or “do not have the political will to comply” following the US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA last year.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018, describing it as a “rotting and decaying structure” and urged Iran for renewed talks on its missile program as well as its regional role.
Trump reinstated tough sanctions on Iran in an effort to coerce it into renegotiating the deal with new terms.
The 2015 agreement was signed by Iran and the United States together with China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom.
“These issues are not part of the deal. We had agreed that in order to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue, we had to limit it to nuclear issue and we had also agreed that if we reach progress in implementing the nuclear deal, it will give the confidence to move in to other issues.
“But the US had failed, it cannot make compliance with the nuclear deal contingent upon issues that are not included in the agreement,” Zarif said.
He said the US withdrawal from the deal was due to Trump's personal reasons.
“He (Trump) doesn't like (former president Barack) Obama's legacy, he just wants to withdraw from the deal because of personal reasons, not because of some substantial reasons,” he said.
Buy talks ‘ticket’
Also speaking with reporters Thursday, Zarif said the United States must observe the landmark nuclear deal and halt “economic terrorism” against Iran if it wants to hold talks.
Trump said Monday he was ready to meet President Hassan Rouhani within weeks, in a potential breakthrough reached during a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz.
But Rouhani has said Washington must first lift sanctions imposed since its withdrawal from the nuclear deal and Zarif reiterated that message.
“The United States is engaged in economic war against the Iranian people, and it won’t be possible for us to engage with the United States unless they stop imposing a war, engaging in economic terrorism against the Iranian people,” he said.
“We spoke to the United States, we spoke at length with the United States, we reached an agreement and they need to implement the agreement that we have reached before they expect to have more talks,” he added, referring to the nuclear deal.
Iran was still talking to other world powers involved in the deal, he said.
“If (the US) wants to come back to the room there is a ticket that they need to purchase, and that ticket is to observe the agreement,” he added.
Trump’s announcement this week came after Zarif traveled to France on Sunday for the second time in a matter of days, and held meetings on the sidelines of the G7 summit.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper also called Wednesday for Iran to enter discussions with the US to ease tensions in the Persian Gulf region.
“We are not seeking conflict with Iran. We want to engage with them diplomatically,” Esper said.
In response to the US withdrawal and its reimposition of crippling sanctions, Iran has hit back by abandoning some commitments under the nuclear deal.
AFP also contributed to this story.