0103 GMT December 06, 2019
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi and his Chinese counterpart Ma Zhaoxu attended a joint press conference after a consultative meeting in Beijing on Sunday.
Araqchi told reporters their meeting had revolved around the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
He also stressed that a phased reduction in Iran’s commitments to the JCPOA does not mean a withdrawal from the nuclear deal, but that it was aimed at saving the agreement.
Since May, Iran has been scaling down its commitments in retaliation for Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the deal and the failure of three European signatories – the UK, France and Germany – to protect bilateral trade against American sanctions.
In the first three stages of its measured response, Iran enriched uranium beyond the 300kg limit set by the deal and ramped up enrichment to levels beyond the 3.67-percent cap. It also expanded nuclear research to areas banned in the agreement.
The fourth step was the injection of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into centrifuges at the Fordo underground enrichment facility.
Tehran says its reciprocal measures do not violate the JCPOA and are based on Articles 26 and 36 of the agreement itself, which detail mechanisms to deal with non-compliance.
Araqchi also noted that Iran welcomes China’s political and diplomatic efforts to find solutions to the JCPOA crisis, adding, “We believe that saving the JCPOA would be per se a great multilateral diplomatic success.”
Describing China as a strategic partner of Iran, the Iranian deputy minister said Tehran and Beijing will continue “strategic cooperation” on various regional and international issues, including matters relating to the JCPOA.
The Chinese diplomat also emphasized that China will make every effort to save the nuclear accord, saying the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and its policy of maximum pressure on Iran is the primary cause of the current crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.
Strategic, long-term ties with Iran
Ma also noted that China is pursuing plans to enhance the strategic and long-term relations with Iran.
Iran’s nuclear program is an indispensable part of strategic cooperation between Beijing and Tehran, he said, adding that the two sides have agreed to promote ties in order to protect the interests of the two nations and the international community.
Speaking to IRNA, Araqchi emphasized that China has an influential position on saving the JCPOA, adding that the meeting of the JCPOA Commission was fixed for December 6 in Vienna and “one of the reasons that led us to consult on this date was the readiness of the commission”.
EU3 statement on Iran, INSTEX
Araqchi on Saturday told IRNA that the fact that the Europeans are still serious about the INSTEX financial system and consider it as a mechanism to keep financial ties with Iran and bypass American sanctions, is valuable by itself.
On Friday, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden said in a statement that they would join INSTEX.
Also three European signatories to the deal – the UK, France and Germany—issued a statement on Saturday night welcoming the six European states’ move on INSTEX.
As founding shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), France, Germany and the United Kingdom on Saturday warmly welcomed the decision taken by the governments of the six European countries, to join INSTEX as shareholders, gov.uk reported.
This step further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the JCPOA, the statement wrote.
Full and effective implementation of the deal is of the utmost importance. Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the deal without delay.
“We reaffirm our readiness to consider all mechanisms in the JCPOA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear deal commitments,” the statement added.
“We remain fully committed to pursuing our efforts towards a diplomatic resolution within the framework of the JCPOA”.
TASNIM and IRNA contributed to the story.