Diplomat defends Iran's move to cut its JCPOA commitments

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (By Mehr News Agency)

Iran’s deputy foreign minister has defended the country's move to scale back its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal in the face of the US pullout, saying Iran is not the one to blame for these commitment cuts.

"Despite the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the fact that Iran's interests were not met by implementing the deal, Iran remained in the JCPOA for a year before starting its commitment cuts, upon the request of other parties who insisted they would compensate for the US withdrawal," Abbas Araqchi said Monday.

"However, the European countries failed to fulfill their commitments," Araqchi added, speaking at a special panel of the 1st Tokyo Global Dialogue Summits in the Japanese capital.

"No one should question Iran for reducing its commitments under the JCPOA," he stressed, saying the measures are aimed at saving the accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensives Plan of Action.

He underlined that the Islamic Republic’s move is not tantamount to quitting the agreement.

"The current situation is a result of the US' unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, and the only solution is the lifting of sanctions and return to diplomacy," the senior diplomat noted.

Before heading to Japan, Araqchi held talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing who said the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and its maximum pressure on Iran risk the total collapse of the agreement.

Araqchi also said in Beijing the international community has a responsibility to protect the nuclear deal, which was the outcome of a multilateral endeavor.

"The JCPOA is an achievement of international diplomacy and world countries are responsible for observing, implementing and protecting it," said Araqchi in a joint press conference with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu in Beijing on Sunday.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the international deal, in defiance of global criticism, and later re-imposed the sanctions that had been lifted against Tehran as part of the agreement.

In response to the move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the sanctions.

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