EghtesadOnline: Although the United States’ intensified sanctions against Iran will impede efforts by the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal to salvage the fraying agreement, any last chance need to be used properly, President Hassan Rouhani said.
"Despite problems and obstructive agendas, we believe that both sides need to take advantage of the remaining opportunities and find appropriate solutions to keep JCPOA alive by using the ingenuity of experts," he said in a phone conversation with his French counterpart on Thursday, the presidential website reported.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program has been facing a risk of breakdown after the US withdrew and restored its sanctions last year and Iran adopted a gradual reciprocal plan to force other signatories to safeguard its interests.
US President Donald Trump aims to pressure Iran into negotiating a new deal, but Iran has refused to enter talks as long as sanctions are in place, according to Financial Tribune.
France has been leading a European initiative to de-escalate the tensions through diplomatic dialogue with JCPOA signatories, particularly Iran and the US.
French President Emmanuel Macron has had several phone conversations with Rouhani in the past month and sent his diplomatic advisor to Iran for consultations on how to freeze the current status quo to gain some time.
He also held a meeting with US President Donald Trump, calling on him to lift at least part of the sanctions to give negotiations a chance.
Trump, however, has shown reluctance, saying he would push on with more sanctions.
"Unfortunately, there are always extremists who obstruct other countries' efforts to establish peace and the US announcements about intensifying sanctions on Iran are along this line," Macron said on the phone.
Nevertheless, Rouhani said, "Iran is determined to keep all channels open for JCPOA's preservation. The Iranian and European side need to try to take balanced steps to maintain this agreement."
Need for Urgent Action
The president called on Europe to speed up its plans to uphold Iran's legitimate rights and secure a “ceasefire” to end the US economic war.
He also told Macron that facilitating Iran’s international trade and oil export through Europe's financial mechanism known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) is of high importance for the deal's survival.
The first transactions are reportedly being conducted through INSTEX and aim to expand its operation to include third parties in the future. Whether or not it will deal with Iran's oil sale is yet to be decided by the stakeholders.
"Passage of time and loss of opportunities will force Iran to take its third step," Rouhani said.
Iran is gradually reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal in reaction to other parties' non-compliance. It has so far implemented two phases of its plan and vowed to take a new step every 60 days as long as it remains deprived of the benefits of JCPOA.
Another solution is to have US sanctions lifted, according to Rouhani. He said short-term solutions are not acceptable to suspend Iran's activities.
Macron said France is determined to salvage the nuclear deal, but this would require the cooperation of all sides. He also discussed the nuclear deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.