Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 17 September 2019

Mohammad Javad Zarif urges 'concrete action' to save Iran nuclear deal

Iranian foreign minister in China as Tehran seeks support amid heightened tensions with US

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on May 17, 2019. via AP
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on May 17, 2019. via AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday urged "friends" including China and Russia to take "concrete action" to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal after the US withdrew from the agreement.

On a visit to Beijing, Mr Zarif said he would also talk with Chinese officials about "bilateral ties and the very dangerous issues that are ongoing in our region today", according to a video published on the Iranian foreign ministry website.

Amid rising tensions in the Gulf, Iran on Thursday rejected negotiations with the US and said it was showing "maximum restraint" after Washington sent extra military forces to the region against what it claimed was an imminent threat from Tehran.

Mr Zarif called on the international community to save the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The landmark 2015 deal between Iran and world powers including the EU and the United States offered sanctions relief to Iran for scaling back its nuclear programme.

In May 2018 President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions.

"If the international community and other JCPOA member countries and our friends in the JCPOA like China and Russia want to keep this achievement, it is required that they make sure the Iranian people enjoy the benefits of the JCPOA with concrete actions," Mr Zarif said.

The Iranian foreign minister said last week that only Russia and China had supported Iran and helped it keep the nuclear deal going, and accused other parties to the agreement of letting Tehran down.

China was one of the eight global buyers, along with India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece, that was US allowed to import Iranian crude oil before the waivers were ended in early May.

Mr Zarif's China trip comes after visits to Turkmenistan, India and Japan in the past week.

Despite Washington's campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran, Iran has vowed to keep selling oil to its main customers, especially China, even through indirect means.

On May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would stop observing restrictions on stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the nuclear deal in retaliation for the US withdrawal and the reimposition of sanctions.

In his announcement, Mr Rouhani threatened to go further if the European members of the deal failed to start delivering on their promises to help Iran circumvent US sanctions within 60 days.

China in response called on all parties to uphold the nuclear deal in what it called a "shared responsibility".

Updated: May 17, 2019 04:18 PM

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