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Zarif Criticizes Europe's Inaction Over JCPOA

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Speaking To Reporters At Allameh Helli College, Tehran (IRNA) June 9 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has once again criticized Europe for "not fulfilling its commitments" under the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Speaking at Allameh Helli College in Tehran on June 9, Zarif said, "It is the responsibility of JCPOA's other signatories, including European partners, to normalize Iran's economic relations" that are adversely affected by U.S. sanctions.

This comes as one of the requirements for normal economic relations with Iran is increasingly unlikely to be met by Tehran. The secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, Mohsen Rezaee, announced on June 9 that the council no longer plans to discuss bills against money laundering and financial support for terrorism which have been awaiting approval for almost a year.

"It is time for them to say how much of this normalization has been completed," Zarif said, referring to France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, and China -- the remaining signatories to JCPOA after the United States withdrew from the deal in May 2018.

The Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) quoted Zarif as saying, "Actions are not important to JCPOA. What is important is the result. It is not enough for them to say we tried but did not succeed. From now on, we too can try without delivering."

Zarif's criticism of JCPOA's partners coincided with German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass’s visit to Iraq. Mass will visit Tehran on June 10 on a mission "to save JCPOA."

Possibly referring to Europe's call for limiting Iran's regional ambitions and ballistic missile program, Zarif said, "Europeans are not in a position to criticize Iran about matters other than JCPOA."

“Some European countries such as Germany have stopped selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to bomb the people in Yemen, but generally the West allows despotic regimes to commit crimes," he said.

The United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, Russia, and China signed the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 to limit Tehran's nuclear capabilities. Following Washington's pull-out from the deal, the other signatories have called for keeping trade routes with Iran open while preventing Tehran's access to nuclear weapons.

Three European powers have been trying to facilitate Iran's oil exports and international banking in spite of U.S. sanctions, but their efforts have not been fruitful so far. A special mechanism called INSTEX was designed to enable Iran to import food and medicine.

Infographic:The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges(INSTEX)
Infographic:The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges(INSTEX)

Europe's failure to make the financial mechanism operational after a year has given rise to criticism by various Iranian officials.

The chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Foreign Policy and National Security Committee, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, recently accused Europe of "hanging on to JCPOA but doing nothing to save it."

In early May, Iran gave a 60-day ultimatum to Europe to activate the financial mechanism, threatening that otherwise Tehran would limit its commitments as stipulated in JCPOA. European countries have criticized and rejected the ultimatum.

Zarif said in his speech on June 9, "The discussion is not about an ultimatum. It is about Iran's plans. We have declared our plans and have said what we will do during the first and next 60 days. We will decide about our next measures later."

He added that the Europeans can take measures based on their obligations and Tehran's measures will be proportionate with those.

Elsewhere in his speech, Zarif acknowledged tensions between Tehran and Washington have been on the rise in recent weeks but said that meetings are underway to find a solution.

The upcoming meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are said to be part of efforts to address rising tensions in the region.