BRUSSELS (Dispatches) -- Iran has hit out at the United States for refusing to abandon its wrong path after two-day negotiations in the Qatari capital to discuss how to remove sanctions on the Islamic Republic ended Wednesday.
Diplomats spoke at the UN Security Council Thursday, wringing their hands at perceived lack of progress after Iran and the European side said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks”.
Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi told the council that the latest talks were positive and the Islamic Republic is ready to strike an agreement, but everything depends on the U.S. to make a decision.
“Iran has demanded verifiable and objective guarantees from the U.S. that JCPOA will not be torpedoed again, that the U.S. will not violate its obligations again, and that sanctions will not be re-imposed under other pretexts or designations,” he said.
“We were sincere in the Doha talks that were serious and positive,” he said. “Our negotiating team is ready to engage constructively again to conclude and reach a deal.”
The talks started on Tuesday, with EU coordinator Enrique Mora shuttling between Iran’s top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and U.S. special Iran envoy Rob Malley.
Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday that Iran is serious about reaching a good, strong and lasting agreement, adding an accord is achievable if the United States is realistic.
“We are determined to continue negotiating until a realistic agreement is reached,” he said. “Our assessment of the recent round of talks in Doha is positive.”
Chinese and Russian diplomats faulted the United States, with Beijing’s representative at the UN urging Washington to remove unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran.
“It is indeed the (Trump) policy of maximum pressure on Iran, which the U.S. administration continues to embrace, that this is the main cause of all of the current problems plaguing the JCPOA,” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said.
China said the U.S. must respond to Iran’s legitimate concerns and redress it past mistakes.
“We hope relevant parties will step up diplomatic efforts, find common ground on the outstanding issues at an early date and remove the obstacles to resuming full compliance,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing on Thursday.
“As the one who created the Iranian nuclear issue, the U.S. needs to redress its mistakes, actively respond to the legitimate concerns of the Iranian side and work to achieve outcomes from negotiations on resuming compliance with the JCPOA at an early date,” he added.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the JCPOA, the acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018 and re-imposed draconian sanctions on Iran’s economy. A year later, Tehran reacted by gradually reducing its compliance.
“We are continuing our remedial measures because other parties’ non-performance of commitments continues, sanctions remain in full force, the maximum pressure policy is still being pursued, and our people’s sufferings continue,” Takht-Ravanchi said.
“Nonetheless, as soon as other parties fulfill all of their obligations in a complete, effective, and verifiable manner, Iran will immediately reverse all of its steps,” he added.
Takht-Ravanchi on Thursday addressed the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the latest report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the implementation of the 2015 council resolution that enshrines the nuclear deal.
“I feel compelled to refresh our memories about the reasons behind the current situation. Unfortunately, certain Council members that have disregarded their own obligations with regard to JCPOA and Resolution 2231, continue to ignore the underlying causes of the current situation and present a spurious narrative as to why we are here, attributing certain falsehoods and fabrications to my country.
“The commitments under the deal, which have been carefully worded and explained in JCPOA and Resolution 2231, are explicit and unambiguous.
“While Iran’s nuclear commitments were connected to the effective lifting of all sanctions and normalization of Iran’s trade and economic relations, the sheer fact is that sanctions are still in place and Iran is not enjoying the economic dividends as promised in the deal.
“In accordance with JCPOA, other parties are committed, and I quote, to ensure Iran’s access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy, end of quote. Specifically, the United States, in addition to its obligation to lift sanctions against Iran, is explicitly committed to, and I quote, make best efforts in good faith to sustain this JCPOA and to prevent interference with the realization of the full benefit by Iran of the sanctions lifting, end of quote.
“Despite these explicit commitments, Iran has been denied its rights and benefits for the past four years.”
Takht-Ravanchi said in defiance of Resolution 2231 and in flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter, the United States withdrew from the agreement on May 8, 2018, and re-imposed unilateral sanctions that had previously been lifted, putting unparalleled pressure on other countries to either disregard their obligations under Resolution 2231 or face punishment.
“This is unprecedented in the history of the Security Council,” he said.
“Despite the enormous difficulties we faced as a result of the sanctions, Iran decided to continue honoring its commitments, validated by the IAEA for 15 times, after being promised and assured by the European participants of JCPOA that they would compensate the losses Iran suffered after the U.S. withdrew from JCPOA.
“Unfortunately, the E3 [France, Britain and Germany] disregarded their obligations and promises, leaving Iran with no choice but to utilize its rights under paragraphs 26 and 36 of JCPOA to partially suspend its commitments on May 8, 2019,” he added.
Iran, Takht-Ravanchi said, is committed to multilateral diplomacy, the outcome of which should assure the effective and verifiable lifting of all unlawful sanctions.
“Iran has demanded verifiable and objective guarantees from the U.S. that JCPOA will not be torpedoed again, that the U.S. will not violate its obligations again, and that sanctions will not be re-imposed under other pretexts or designations - as occurred during the previous U.S. administration - and that JCPOA mechanisms will not be abused. In fact, these are the minimum requirements for determining the deal’s long-term viability,” he said.
On his campaign trail, President Joe Biden had promised to undo his predecessor’s wrongs, but he has widely been following in the former administration’s footsteps.
“While the former U.S. administration recklessly sacrificed a well-established tenet of international law and withdrew from the deal and re-imposed sanctions, the present administration is following in its predecessor’s footsteps as it continues to adopt the notorious maximum pressure policy and impose sanctions on Iran. There is no doubt that such a policy is advanced as a leverage in the negotiations,” Takht-Ravanchi said.
The talks in Doha followed several rounds of negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna since April last year. They had stalled since March, chiefly over Washington’s insistence to maintain some key elements of the sanctions intact.
In the course of Vienna talks, the Iranian envoy said, Iran exercised maximum flexibility and showed good faith in order to reach an agreement acceptable to all and even introduced innovative solutions to the remaining issues with the hope to break the impasse. “However, the United States’ unrealistic and rigid approach has led to the current stalemate,” he added.
“The U.S. is responsible for the current hiatus in Iran’s nuclear case, must fulfill its obligations to return to the nuclear agreement, respond to Iran’s legitimate concerns and take measures to resume negotiations as early as possible to help things move forward,” Zhao said.
Nevertheless, the Europeans accused Iran of making “maximalist demands” in the latest talks.
“Not only has Iran not taken up the offer on the table, but it also added yet more issues which fall outside the JCPOA with maximalist and unrealistic demands,” the French ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Rivière, said.
European diplomats and former U.S. officials also told NBC News that Washington is likely to introduce new sanctions against Tehran and seek to further enforce existing sanctions.
They said the possible options include persuading China to shut off oil imports from Iran, ramping up sanctions, including targeting oil sales to China, and pursuing a less ambitious interim nuclear deal.
Potential sabotage operations against the civilian nuclear program could also be on the table, they said.
According to the European diplomats, former U.S. officials and experts, among the possible options is ordering military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities or supporting Israeli military action.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that the U.S. was “prepared to turn to other options” if the negotiations failed.
Iranian politicians and military officials have repeatedly warned against any adventurism against the Islamic Republic, warning of a crushing response to any act of aggression.
Earlier this month, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Force warned that Tehran would raze Tel Aviv and Haifa if Israel made a mistake against Tehran.
“By the order of the Leader of the [Islamic] Revolution, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground for any mistake made by the enemy,” Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari said on June 7.