TEHRAN (Dispatches) – The U.S. Congress’ vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years was a violation of the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator said on Tuesday and called for measures to redress the breach.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi made the remarks in an interview with IRIB in the Austrian capital of Vienna ahead of a meeting of a high-level commission monitoring the implementation of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
"The extension of the Iran Sanctions Act is a breach of the U.S. obligations under the JCPOA and must be compensated in an effective way,” he said.
He noted that the meeting was called at Iran’s request in order to discuss Washington’s violation of the JCPOA.
The monitoring body convened for a sixth meeting on Tuesday, with deputies and political directors from Iran and the P5+1 – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany -- as well as European Union Political Director Helga Schmid in attendance. The meeting was co-chaired by Schmid and Araqchi. The two had also met earlier in the day.
The JCPOA, which took effect in January 2016, removed nuclear-related sanctions against Iran in exchange for the Islamic Republic placing certain limits on its nuclear program.
Prior to the Tuesday meeting, Iranian experts met their counterparts from other delegations, including the Americans.
A taskforce, which has been set up to monitor sanctions relief, meanwhile, met on Monday, and is to report to the commission as it meets.
This time, the commission is convening at Iran’s request to address Washington’s decision to extend an anti-Iran sanctions law, a move Tehran has slammed as a violation of the nuclear deal.
Araqchi noted that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier written to the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and complained about the U.S. violation of the JCPOA, particularly the renewal of ISA.
In his official letter to the EU foreign policy chief, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran and the P5+1 group of countries needed to hold a joint commission meeting to address the renewal of ISA against Tehran.
Araqchi further noted that experts from both Iran and the P5+1 group of countries had held talks in Vienna on Monday and reached positive conclusions ahead of a meeting between the Iranian and US delegations.
Last December, the U.S. Congress voted to extend Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years. The law, which authorizes the U.S. president to re-impose the bans, was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program and its support for anti-Israeli resistance groups.
Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama later declined to sign the bill, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he had decided to allow the legislation to become law without his signature.
The ISA’s extension came despite numerous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA.
In a retaliatory measure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instructed Foreign Minister Zarif on December 13, 2016, to take action to follow up on the U.S. violations of the JCPOA as per the provisions of the deal and to take other legal and international measures necessary in that regard.
He also ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to plan work on nuclear propulsion devices to be used in sea transport.
Based on Rouhani’s directive, Zarif later sent a letter to the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, calling for a meeting of the joint commission to discuss the recent US move.