Iran’s chief negotiator: Resumption of Additional Protocol implementation ‘predicated on sanctions lifting'

Iran’s chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi speaks with Iran’s representative to international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi, during talks in the Austrian capital aimed at returning the JCPOA participants to full compliance. (Photo by Reuters)

Iran’s chief negotiator says Tehran’s resumption of the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol allowing short-notice inspections of the country’s nuclear sites is “predicated” on the verifiable lifting of sanctions.

In a post on his official Twitter page on Wednesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs Abbas Araqchi, who is leading the Iranian negotiating team in the Vienna talks, expressed hope that the sanctions would be lifted before May 21, the deadline set as part of an ad hoc agreement struck between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on inspections of the country’s nuclear sites.

“Resumption of voluntary application of AP by Iran is predicated on sanctions being lifted. We'd like to get to it before 21 May, if possible,” said the tweet.  

On February 23, Iran halted its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement.  

The suspension came under the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, a law passed in December 2020 by the Iranian Parliament in response to both the US withdrawal from a UN-endorsed nuclear agreement that put restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief, and Washington’s subsequent return of the economic sanctions.

The halt was the latest in a series of “remedial measures” by Iran taken in retaliation for the US non-compliance and violation of its commitments.     

Later in February, Iran and the IAEA reached a technical understanding under which Tehran continued to keep the camera footage at its nuclear sites for up to three months in a goodwill gesture in support of diplomacy, waiting to see whether the other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal -- the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- could manage to bring the US back into full compliance with the deal.

That deadline will come to an end on May 21, while the prospects of reaching an agreement to bring Washington into compliance with the JCPOA look uncertain.

In his Wednesday tweet, Araqchi, however, said that Iran would reverse its counter-measures in no time if the sanctions are lifted.  

“We're serious & determined, ready to do it even tomorrow: once sanctions r verifiably lifted, we'll return to full implementation of JCPOA,” he said.

Russia rejects hasty conclusion on Vienna talks, says progress made

This comes as high-ranking diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and the UK have made progress in talks with Iran in Vienna, with cautious optimism expressed from participants in the negotiations.

The Russian preventative to international organizations in Vienna in a tweet on Wednesday rejected any hasty conclusion on the talks, saying the negotiators aim at completing the process as soon as possible.

“Some analysts express doubts that an agreement on the restoration of #JCPOA can be achieved this month. Hasty conclusion. The Vienna talks make progress and the negotiators aim at completing the process as soon is possible. Hopefully by May 21. It’s very difficult but doable,” Mikhail Ulyanov said.

Iran says it is not after protracted talks for the sake of negotiations, noting it seeks verifiable lifting of the sanctions that would allow the country to reap the promised economic benefits of the JCPOA.  

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