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No one should expect Iran to take first step towards JCPOA: Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses a meeting with foreign ambassadors residing in Tehran on February 9, 2021. (Photo by

President Hassan Rouhani says no party should expect Iran to take the first step towards reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, adding that the buck stops with the country that has abandoned the agreement.

Addressing a Tuesday meeting with foreign ambassadors residing in Tehran on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Rouhani said it was the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal — officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — and the failure of the three remaining European signatories — Britain, France and Germany — to fulfill their obligations that prompted Iran to scale down its commitments.

“Today, no one can expect Iran to take the first step. I think there is no doubt who should start. We have not exited the deal so that we would want to take the first step now,” he said.

“The country which has abandoned its obligations for three years and oppressed our nation in violation of international regulations and its commitments under [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231 (which endorses the JCPOA) is duty-bound to take the first step,” the president added.

Rouhani, however, emphasized that Iran would return to compliance with all its JCPOA commitments immediately after the P5+1 group of countries fulfill all their obligations.

“Iran has proved that if it signs something and accepts a commitment, it will fully remain committed to its signature and commitment and this has been an honor for the Iranian nation throughout history, and particularly over the past 42 years” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, he pointed out.

In 2015, Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — signed the JCPOA which was ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

However, the US under former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the deal.

The Trump administration also launched what it called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” restrictive measures.

As the remaining European parties failed to fulfill their end of the bargain under US pressure, Iran began in May 2019 to scale back its JCPOA commitments under Articles 26 and 36 of the accord covering Tehran’s legal rights.

Biden voiced strong criticism of Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA during his 2020 campaign, when he also promised to rejoin the accord, signed when he was vice president, if Iran returns to compliance.

However, he has failed to take corrective measures since he assumed office on January 20. Washington and its European allies have called on Tehran to resume its commitments first before the US’s return to compliance.

Iran, however, says the United States’ potential return to the JCPOA could only be meaningful if Washington removed all of the sanctions.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that Iran will retrace its nuclear countermeasures once the United States lifts its sanctions in a manner that could be verifiable by Tehran.

Elsewhere in his address, Rouhani said Iran has always remained committed to its undertakings since the conclusion of the JCPOA, stressing that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified the country’s compliance in 15 reports.

He said the Iranian nation suffered severe hardships since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, saying, “All the world nations were free to use their own money for medical equipment, food, medicine and vaccine except for the Islamic Republic of Iran, which was deprived of access to its own financial resources due to illegal and cruel US sanctions.”

He described COVID-19 as a “big test” for humanity and global cooperation.

“We have not witnessed [even] a single appropriate and right measure from the new US administration until now” in this regard, the Iranian president stated.

However, he noted, despite the US refusal to conduct a practical measure, the Iranian nation succeeded in producing all necessary health equipment and medicines that could be effective in the fight against COVID-19.

Rouhani hailed the beginning of the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in Iran, saying, “We have spared no efforts to battle this virus. We believe that we should all stand by each other in important human and global issues.

Iran achieved victory in two wars 

Elsewhere in his address, the Iranian president also pointed to the significance of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, which brought Iran “a democracy, a republic and an Islamic system.”

The Islamic Republic has been the harbinger of peace, stability and negotiations to promote cordial relations with other countries over the past 42 years, Rouhani emphasized.

“Two wars have been imposed on us during these years: One war by [former Iraqi dictator Saddam] Hussein and one [economic] war by Trump. But we have resisted in the face of both acts of aggression and emerged victorious,” he said.

The president added that the two wars only brought disgrace on Saddam and Trump.

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