Feb 24, 2021 05:11 UTC
  • Top Iran, China diplomats say speedy US return to JCPOA, sanctions removal 'key' to breaking nuclear deadlock

Senior diplomats of Iran and China say a swift return of the United States to a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal and removal of the sanctions it re-imposed on the Islamic Republic is crucial to ending the current impasse over the landmark agreement.

According to Press TV, in a late Monday phone call, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi and China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu discussed a range of issues, mainly the current situation surrounding the Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

“The speedy return of the United States to the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions on Iran are the key to breaking the deadlock over the Iranian nuclear program,” the ministry added.

It noted that the two diplomats believe that the Iranian nuclear issue has “both opportunities and challenges,” while the situation around it is “rapidly changing.”

Araqchi and Zhaoxu emphasized that the countries concerned should seize an opportunity to find a political and diplomatic solution to the issue and promote peace and stability in West Asia.

In recent weeks, Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads over which side should first return to compliance with the JCPOA, which former US president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

Iran says the US should first lift all the sanctions put in place under the Trump administration before the Islamic Republic returns to full compliance. Tehran believes it was the White House that complicated the circumstances by the pullout, which in turn prompted Iran to take remedial measures.

However, as the US refrained from lifting sanctions before a deadline set by Tehran, Iran announced that the country stopped the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement that allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out short-notice inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities.

The halt came under the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, a law passed last December by the Iranian Parliament.

The legislation set February 23 as a deadline for the Iranian government to further scale back compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, if the US does not lift its sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The withdrawal from the Protocol adds to Iran’s previous steps away from the JCPOA in response to the US’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018 and the other parties’ failure to fulfill their commitments.