TEHRAN – A Chinese envoy on Tuesday urged the United States to lift all illegal sanctions against Iran and its “long-arm jurisdiction” against third-party entities and individuals, including those from China, CGTN reported.
The Chinese envoy made remarks during the talks on the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna.
Senior diplomats from China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran met behind closed doors in the Grand Hotel Wien. On top of the agenda were lifting sanctions on Iran and nuclear implementation measures.
The meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, has drawn public attention as representatives from the United States were in Vienna to save the deal.
The U.S. should lift all illegal sanctions against Tehran, and the Iranian side should resume full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal on that basis, said Wang Qun, the Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, after the meeting.
Wang said that the U.S. withdrawal from the deal and its maximum pressure against Iran is the root cause of the current situation. Therefore, Wang said, the early return of the U.S. to the accord is the key to resolving the problem.
“The justified request of the injured party, rather than the offending party, should be confirmed and satisfied first. This is a basic right-or-wrong question. The U.S. should lift all sanctions against Tehran, and on this basis, Iran can resume full compliance to the nuclear deal,” Wang said in a statement.
He stressed that China firmly opposes any illegal unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. and will safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.
Wang added that China supports the Joint Commission’s efforts in setting up two expert-level groups, one on sanctions-lifting and nuclear issues, and the other on “close contact” with the U.S. He said China hopes the two groups can make progress as soon as possible.
China continues to unswervingly uphold the JCPOA and hopes that all parties can enhance their sense of urgency, seize the current opportunities, and push the JCPOA back on track through fair and reasonable negotiations, Wang noted.
He pledged that China would work with all parties to continue advancing the Iran nuclear issue’s political settlement and strive to restore the full implementation of the 2015 accord as early as possible.
A ‘constructive meeting’
The JCPOA talks were chaired by Enrique Mora, deputy secretary-general and political director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), on behalf of the European Union’s High Representative (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. Media reports said the U.S. delegation led by Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley was based in a nearby hotel.
Mora said on Twitter following the meeting that they had a “constructive Joint Commission meeting.”
“There’s unity and ambition for a joint diplomatic process with two expert groups on nuclear implementation and sanctions lifting. As Coordinator, I will intensify separate contacts here in Vienna with all relevant parties, including the U.S.,” he added.
According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi told the commission meeting that lifting U.S. sanctions is the first and most necessary step to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
U.S. and Iranian negotiators were not supposed to meet face-to-face, but a shuttle diplomacy approach was adopted with the coordinators’ intensified help.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Araqchi said he would “not hold any direct or indirect talks” with U.S. representatives but would only negotiate with the Joint Commission of JCPOA.
If the P4+1 countries, including China, Britain, France and Russia, plus Germany, succeed in convincing Washington to lift all the sanctions “by any means they know,” Iran will comply, said Araqchi, who is also Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs.
The U.S. on Tuesday also called the talks in Vienna “a constructive step” but rejected what it called Tehran’s “maximalist demands.”
“These discussions in Vienna, even though we are not meeting directly with the Iranians, as we have said, it is a welcome step, it is a constructive step, it is a potentially useful step,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in a press briefing.
“We don’t anticipate any immediate breakthrough,” he said. “We know there will be difficult discussions ahead, but again this is a healthy step forward.”
Price noted that two working groups in the meeting were focused on respective steps for Tehran and Washington to revive the JCPOA.
“What is on the table in Vienna today and over the next handful of days are those initial indirect discussions about that first step, what Iran would need to do to resume compliance with the JCPOA and what the United States would need to do to resume its compliance with the JCPOA,” he said.
He expected the United States could have a better understanding of a roadmap for how both sides get to mutual compliance with the nuclear deal following the discussions in Vienna.
Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018 and tightened sanctions on Iran under former President Donald Trump. In response to the U.S. moves, Iran suspended the implementation of parts of its obligations under the deal.
Iran’s moves were based on paragraph 36 of the JCPOA that has “provided a mechanism to resolve disputes and allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance.”
Iran took these remedial measures one year after Trump quit the deal.
“Failure of maximum pressure”
Trump abrogated the nuclear deal unilaterally and imposed sanctions on Iran under his “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran under the illusion of crafting a new deal.
Iran adopted a maximum resistance against the maximum pressure. All unbiased politicians and analysts say the maximum pressure ended in failure.
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) on April 6, the U.S. special envoy for Iran said, “We’ve had a real-life experiment with this. Last three years, the Trump administration tested the proposition that putting Iran under maximum pressure and telling it either it needs to come back and forget about the existing nuclear deal and agree to more stringent requirements, or else the pressure would continue.”
Malley, who helped craft the JCPOA during the Obama presidency, added, “Well, we’ve seen what happened. Iran expanded its nuclear program, is getting closer to, sort of, troubling levels of enriched uranium, troubling levels of advanced centrifuges, troubling restrictions on the verification and monitoring, the unprecedented verification that the nuclear deal provided. So, no, we’ve seen the result of the maximum pressure campaign. It has failed.”
Russia vows to make every effort for JCPOA revival
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov also said his country would make every effort to find mutually acceptable solutions for the restoration of the JCPOA.
Speaking to Russia’s Sputnik news agency, Ryabkov emphasized that he agrees with the U.S. that the process of reviving the nuclear deal will not be easy.
“First of all, because there is no trust between Tehran and Washington … But even without this, since the process of moving away from the initially set parameters of the JCPOA has gone far enough, the return requires a lot of political will,” he said, according to Press TV.
Iran believes that the JCPOA can be easily restored if Tehran and Washington agree on what measures they need to take, and then the sides can implement them promptly, he added. “I admit that this is so, but in order to reach this milestone, great efforts are required.”
France welcomes Vienna negotiations
A spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry also welcomed the resumption of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, saying, “The ongoing negotiations should allow [the participants] to soon reach an agreement on the actions necessary to bring Iran and the United States back to full compliance with the nuclear agreement.”
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