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Zarif Sends Letter To UN's Guterres Saying Ready For Talks 'At All Levels'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif walks past United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at U.N. Headquarters in New York, July 17, 2017. FILE PHOTO

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has sent a letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saying the Islamic Republic “is ready for talks at any level to ensure the full implementation” of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

In the letter dated May 8, Zarif attacks “the unilateral” actions of the United States, both in withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA) and pursuing the extension of the current arms embargo, due to expire in October.

When the JCPOA was finalized in 2015, the United Nations Security Council put its seal on the deal agreeing to resolution 2231, which among other things approved a five-year embargo on arms trade for Iran.

President Donald Trump’s administration in recent weeks has launched a campaign to extend the arms embargo, arguing that Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region will be bolstered if Tehran was allowed to import and export weapons. But Washington withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and now it is not clear how it could ask the UN Security Council to extend a clause of resolution 2231.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has argued that the U.S. can still be considered a party to the resolution and will push for the extension of the arms embargo.

Zarif in his letter has criticized the American position regarding 2231 and has voiced deep concern. He has also warned that Washington’s policies could “bring the situation to an uncontrollable state”.

Zarif has also argued that the U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA has effectively ended any claims Washington might have in regard with the implementation of the Security Council resolution.

China and Russia are expected to veto any proposal to extend the arms embargo, in which case the U.S. would need to argue it is still a party to the implementation of JCPOA and try to use the automatic snap-back mechanism for sanctions, which was part of the original agreement with Iran.