Zarif: JCPOA Remains Best Possible Deal
EghtesadOnline: Despite the current controversy over Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, it remains the best possible agreement on the issue, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
"None of the participants were happy with all elements of the deal, but it addressed the major concerns of all," he said in a recent interview with New York Times.
Under the long-negotiated nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran agreed to place curbs on its nuclear program in return for relief from international sanctions.
The United States, however, left the accord unilaterally under its new president last year and reinstated sanctions, according to Financial Tribune.
The remaining parties, particularly Europe, have failed to compensate the negative effects of the restrictions, compelling Iran to take reciprocal action by gradually reducing its commitments after a year since the US withdrawal.
Tehran has so far exceeded the 300-kg enriched uranium stockpile limit set in the deal and will take further steps after the 60-day deadline it gave Europe expires on July 7.
The measures have sparked calls by European countries for Iran to return to compliance.
In the eye of certain groups inside and outside the country, these tensions have called into question the effectiveness of JCPOA in settling international disputes over the nuclear issue.
However, Zarif, who was Iran's chief negotiator and most closely associated with the deal, said it was and still is the most efficient solution to the problem.
He said nothing has been neglected in the deal and it was negotiated by all "with open eyes about what was possible and what was not".
"We accepted the reality that we could not resolve all our differences in this deal and we agreed to leave them out," he said.
Built on Mistrust
Detractors of the deal have also criticized it for being built on a misplaced trust.
Zarif noted that JCPOA has been, on the contrary, built on mistrust.
"It was indeed based on explicit recognition of mutual mistrust. That is why it is so long and detailed," he said, citing paragraph 36 of JCPOA, which contains provisions for a possible occasion when a party is deemed to be out of compliance.
He said this paragraph clearly indicates that Iran negotiated the deal with the full understanding that the commitment of the West cannot be trusted.
Tehran is currently exercising this option which, according to the foreign minister, can prevent the deal from total collapse.
Zarif said JCPOA's breakdown would be detrimental to the interests of all, including the US, yet its survival depends on the ability and willingness of all parties to invest in this undertaking.
"We will remain committed to the deal, as long as the remaining participants [the EU, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China] observe the deal … A multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally."
Asked about his possible designation by US as a target of sanctions, he said that would not be a concern as he does not have any property outside Iran.
Nevertheless, that could limit his ability to communicate, which would consequently only limit "the possibility of informed decision-making in Washington".