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Rouhani Orders Talks With JCPOA Partners To 'Guarantee' Iran's Interests

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. File photo

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has assigned his foreign minister to review the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), through direct talks with his British, Chinese, French, German and Russian counterparts.

Despite European efforts to encourage the U.S. to remain a party to JCPOA, President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the agreement on May 8 and promised to re-impose the highest level of economic sanctions on Tehran.

The U.S. decision reignited the danger of economic crisis for Iran, which is now at the center of Tehran's diplomatic efforts.

According to reports by Iranian news agencies, Rouhani, in issuing his orders on May 12, underlined the importance of securing Iran’s economic interests.

JCPOA was implemented in 2016 after five permanent members of UN Security Council, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and USA plus Germany reached an agreement with Rouhani’s government to lift international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic in exchange for Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

Tehran insists that if the remaining signatories do not guarantee Iran’s interests, Tehran might resume unrestricted uranium enrichment.

Based on Rouhani’s order, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to leave Tehran for Beijing on Sunday, May 13 and then to Moscow.

Before leaving Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in a telephone conversation discussed the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after the US pullout, according to Fars.

Zarif and Mogherini also conferred on plans and arrangements for a Tuesday meeting in Brussels between them and the three European countries foreign ministers, FNA said.

The Iranian foreign minister highlighted the need for other parties to the JCPOA to provide “sufficient guarantees” that assure Tehran of being able to “reap the benefits” of the nuclear deal.

Earlier, in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Rouhani called on the European states to shortly clarify the manner in which they will “guarantee” their commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"How Europe is going to secure Iran’s interests in the JCPOA should be clarified in a limited period of time," President Rouhani told Merkel.

"Iran’s interests in important areas and issues relevant to the JCPOA, like oil, gas, and petrochemicals sales, as well as banking relations should be clearly and explicitly defined and guaranteed,” Rouhani said.

Angela Merkel, for her part, without any reference to the “guarantees” demanded by Rouhani, said that keeping JCPOA is of prime importance for Europe.

Meanwhile, delegations of Iranian experts will continue negotiating the future of JCPOA with their European counterparts.

Iran’s main concern is that renewed U.S. sanctions will have a far-reaching impact on the willingness of non-American companies and banks to deal with Iran, crippling its trade, oil exports and an already strained economy.

However, President Trump has explicitly noted that US hopes to reach a “fair” deal with Iran through new rounds of talks. Tehran has repeatedly said that it would never accept re-negotiating the nuclear deal.

The White House also has bluntly warned Iran of unspecified consequences should it resume nuclear activities prohibited under the agreement.

"If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before," President Trump said on May 9.