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Khamenei, Zarif Disappointed By Europe's Attempts To Save JCPOA

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Hassan Rohani and his cabinet-- 29 Aug 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says remaining in the nuclear deal with the West is not Iran's only option.

Reacting to the August 30 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which once again confirmed Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal with the West, Zarif claimed that Iran was the only party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) that still practically honoured the deal.

"If preserving JCPOA is the goal, then there is no escape from mustering the courage to comply with commitment to normalize Iran's economic relations instead of making extraneous demands. Being the party to still honor the deal in deeds & not just words is not Iran's only option," Zarif said in a tweet on August 30.

Before Zarif's tweet, Reuters had reported that the IAEA had released its second report since the U.S. pull-out from JCPOA in May confirming that Iran has kept its nuclear program within the main limits imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers despite the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.

The IAEA report said the agency's inspectors had access "to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit" within the frameworks of the deal, adding that Tehran could do more to cooperate with inspectors and thereby "enhance confidence."

Following its withdrawal from JCPOA, the United States has started to re-impose sanctions against Iran that were lifted after the 2015 deal, and U.S. officials warned that foreign companies that continued working with Iran can no longer do business in America.

Furthermore, U.S. officials have vowed to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero when the second round of sanctions targeting oil sales would be implemented from November 4.

Many European companies have stopped activities in Iran fearing the sanctions might affect their operations in the United States and elsewhere. This comes while the United Kingdom, France, and Germany insist they will remain in the nuclear deal with Iran and EU officials have said repeatedly they will do everything to save JCPOA and help Iran to continue its oil exports.

Iran, however, says what Europe has been doing is not enough to protect Tehran's interests. Zarif has characterized European officials' remarks on saving JCPOA as "political stances rather than operational decisions."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also appeared to be disappointed by Europeans' stances in late August. A statement on his Twitter account, as well as in one of his latest speeches, indicates he might decide that Iran should leave JCPOA.

"JCPOA is not a goal but a means; naturally, if we conclude that it is impossible to protect national interests with JCPOA, we will put it aside. Europeans should understand from Iranian govt officials' words and actions that their measures will receive proper reactions by Iran," he said in an August 20 tweet.

In another tweet on the same date, which reflects his comments during a meeting with the Rouhani administration officials, he said, "It is fine to establish ties, continue negotiations with Europe; however, meanwhile you should stop having hopes in them on the issues like JCPOA or economic matters. You should strictly watch over the process of dealing with the matters, approaching their promises with wariness."

U.S. officials, however, say Iran has not been loyal to the spirit of JCPOA as indicated by its destabilizing actions in the Middle East, including its missile activities and assisting para-military groups in the region.

They have called for renewed talks with Iran over JCPOA as well as its ballistic missiles program and its activities in the region. Iran has ruled out any new talks about JCPOA.