Iranian officials have rejected the move by several European countries to censure Iran at the upcoming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Germany, France and the United Kingdom plan to issue a statement expressing “serious concern” over moves Iran has made that counter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iranian nuclear deal. As a result of the 2018 US exit from the deal and the reapplication of nuclear sanctions, Iran breached the JCPOA. Iranian officials say the breaches are “reversible” and they could be interested in returning to the deal, but only once all sanctions are lifted.
With Joe Biden as president and US interest in returning to the JCPOA, it seems Europe is ready to take a hard line on Tehran, starting with the IAEA quarterly meeting in Vienna. The Biden administration has called for talks, and those who support negotiations between Iran and the United States say the two sides need to address “sequencing” of sanctions removal and full Iranian compliance to all of the JCPOA’s terms.
Chief of Staff of Hassan Rouhani's administration Mahmoud Vaezi said of the upcoming resolution, “From our viewpoint, it is not a constructive position and will have a negative effect on JCPOA negotiations and Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA.” He added, “This behavior is not friendly, and they should change it before it is too late.”
Complicating matters with the IAEA is that Iran and IAEA director general Rafael Grossi recently came to an agreement to help delay a crisis. According to an Iranian parliamentary bill, Iran was required on Feb. 23 to suspend additional protocols that gave the IAEA broader access to Iran’s nuclear sites. The bill, named Strategic Action to Remove Sanctions, was designed to pressure Europe and the United States to remove sanctions on Iran. The Rouhani administration and Gross came to an agreement in which Iran would continue to record nuclear sites but hold on to footage for a period of three months. If in that time, Iran and the United States resolved US reentry into the JCPOA and sanctions removal and Iran returned to full compliance, then Iran would hand the recordings over to the IAEA. If not, then Iran would permanently delete the recordings.
Vaezi said of Iran’s position, “The sanctions must be removed, and both the United States and European countries have to take clear, operational action; conversely, once it is verified, we are certain we too will take such action.”
Regarding Rouhani’s phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, Vaezi told reporters "there are some differences.” He said both sides agreed to think about these differences and continue the talks “at the expert level.”
Vaezi reemphasized Iran’s desire to get back into the JCPOA. He said the sanctions must be removed in accordance with the JCPOA and an additional 1,600 sanctions were placed on Iran under Donald Trump. The additional sanctions are mostly on individuals or entities, which are separate from the JCPOA.