Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

Rouhani hopes Iran nuclear deal will remain in place through collective cooperation

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has expressed hope that a landmark nuclear deal Iran clinched with major world powers in 2015 will remain in place through collective cooperation.

“As long as we enjoy the benefits of the deal (the JCPOA — officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we will remain committed to our obligations,” Rouhani said in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

The historic deal has been slowly crumbling since US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018 and re-imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran. The EU3 — the three European signatories to the nuclear deal — under Washington’s pressure, have failed to protect Tehran’s business interests under the JCPOA against the American bans.

After months of gradual steps to reduce compliance, Iran announced on January 5 that it would take the fifth and final step to scale back its commitments under the nuclear accord to both retaliate for Washington’s departure and trigger the European trio to respect their obligations towards Tehran.

Speaking to reporters after the 15th meeting of the Joint Commission of the deal in Vienna on Wednesday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the EU3 are keen to preserve the agreement.

“All remaining participants in the JCPOA confirmed once again the importance of this deal and [reaffirmed] their support for the deal, and their efforts, their willingness to protect this deal to make sure that the JCPOA would stay alive,” Araqchi said.

Astana peace agreement must be implemented immediately: Rouhani

The Iranian president further pointed to the “worrisome” situation in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib and called for the implementation of Astana peace agreements as early as possible to pave the way for the establishment of peace and security and eradication of terrorism in the region.

The previous trilateral meeting, the fifth in a row, between the presidents of the countries acting as guarantors of the Astana process to promote a peaceful settlement in Syria took place in Ankara in September 2019.

The trio also maintains contacts as part of the high-level meetings on Syria in Nur-Sultan (previously Astana), Kazakhstan. The last such meeting was held on December 10-11, 2019.

Rouhani emphasized that it is not acceptable that terrorists have taken control of certain parts of Syria for years.

“As it has been repeatedly announced, the Syrian problem will be solved only through political [means] and … dialog, and we should not allow Idlib’s conditions to turn into a pretext for the Americans’ interference and their abuse of the Syrian issue,” he added.

He noted that Iran, Russia and Turkey have carried out great measures during recent years to fight terrorism and said, “We should preserve their outcomes, and regarding the situation in Idlib, we are completely ready to reach a solution at political and security levels, which would be agreed by the three countries.”

In a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Saturday, Rouhani said people should be protected and terrorists should be eliminated in Idlib.

“The situation in Idlib is very complicated, considering the presence of dangerous terrorists and [the necessity] to protect innocent people living in this region,” Rouhani said.

He stressed the importance of cooperation among Iran, Turkey and Russia in line with the Astana peace process to solve the conflict in Syria and said, “Trilateral cooperation at different levels has special significance and as it has been already announced, Iran is ready to host the next round of this trilateral summit.”

Iran, Russia cooperating on JCPOA survival: Putin

The Russian president, for his part, said Iran and Russia have been cooperating on ways to preserve the nuclear deal and noted that the recent Vienna meeting helped the parties move in this direction.

Putin said participants at the Astana peace talks have reached very effective agreements on possible ways to settle the Syrian crisis but the establishment of de-escalation zones in the Arab country should not be regarded as a halt in the fight against terrorism.

He stressed the importance of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity and welcomed Iran’s announcement of its readiness to host the next round of the Astana talks.

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