Iran nuclear deal members agree on preserving landmark pact

Iran and representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom met in Vienna as Washington presses on with its bid to restore sanctions on Tehran.

al-monitor EU representative Helga Schmid (L) of Germany and Iranian representative Abbas Araghchi attend a meeting of the Joint Commission on Iran's nuclear program (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 6, 2019. Both also attended the JCPOA meeting held in Vienna on Sept. 1, 2020. Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images.

Sep 1, 2020

The remaining signatories to the Iran nuclear deal met in Vienna today in an attempt to keep alive the landmark accord they reached with Tehran in 2015. 

Officials from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran attended the European Union-chaired meeting in Austria, which came as the United States forges ahead with its controversial plan to restore international sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Senior EU official Helga Schmid, who chaired the meeting, tweeted after it wrapped up that “participants are united in resolve to preserve the #IranDeal and find a way to ensure full implementation of the agreement despite current challenges.” 

The Donald Trump administration accuses Iran of failing to comply with the same nuclear deal the United States withdrew from as part of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign in 2018. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initiated the process of reimposing international sanctions on Iran, which was rejected by nearly all of the 15-member United Nations Security Council. 

Critics say the United States lacks the legal authority to reinstate sanctions, given that it walked away from the 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's representative in Vienna, tweeted after the meeting that the JCPOA’s joint commission reaffirmed today that the United States is no longer a participant to the nuclear deal, which makes its attempt to snap back sanctions “null and void.”  

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN watchdog tasked with monitoring Iran’s compliance under the nuclear accord, said in June that Iran had enriched uranium at almost eight times what is allowed under the agreement. Tehran, which insists its nuclear program is used for peaceful purposes only, says Washington’s exit from the deal and reimposition of sanctions means that Iran no longer obligated by the enrichment limits. 

In a breakthrough for the other parties to the nuclear pact, Iran agreed last week to grant inspectors from the IAEA access to two suspected nuclear sites following a meeting among the agency’s director general and key Iranian officials. 

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