EghtesadOnline: Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday the extraordinary meeting of the Joint Commission of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was “constructive”.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting in Vienna, Austria, Araqchi said, “The atmosphere was constructive. Discussions were good. I cannot say that we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments.”
The meeting, where the agenda and desired outcomes of an upcoming ministerial meeting were reviewed, was co-chaired by Secretary-General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid and was attended by deputy foreign ministers and political directors of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
The meeting has been convened at the request of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Iran, and was expected to examine issues linked to the implementation of all aspects of JCPOA, the website of EEAS reported.
The Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nuclear agreement. During its last meeting on June 28, the participants agreed to arrange a session at the ministerial level whose agenda was to be discussed in the extraordinary meeting.
"We don't want a symbolic session with no outcome. Therefore, one of the subjects of discussion will be the agenda and [desired] outcomes of the foreign ministers meeting" Araqchi told IRIB News ahead of the Sunday meeting.
Given the recent JCPOA-related developments, the parties believed that it would be more suitable to review the issues before the next foreign ministers' assembly.
"Important things have happened over the past months that made it necessary to hold an extraordinary Joint Commission meeting," Araqchi said.
The nuclear deal has been on a shaky ground since the United States pulled out last year and restored harsh sanctions on Tehran.
Iran remained fully committed for a year, waiting for the remaining parties to ensure its economic benefits, but it began a reciprocal plan to reduce compliance in early May as they failed to meet its core concerns.
The plan involves scaling down JCPOA commitments gradually by taking one step every 60 days so as to allow time for the remaining parties to address the country's economic woes.
Iran has so far implemented two phases of the plan, with the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming the moves in its reports, but has stressed that all moves are “reversible”.
The US took the issue to the IAEA's Board of Governors, but European countries insisted that the issue needed to be discussed within frameworks envisioned in the JCPOA, including the Joint Commission.
Meanwhile, an Iranian oil tanker was detained in the British territory of Gibraltar which Iran deems a violation of JCPOA as parties must not impede Iran's oil export.
These events, along with other developments, according to Araqchi, prompted Iran and other JCPOA signatories to call for the special meeting of the Joint Commission.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters before the meeting that the European financial channel known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) along with the Arak heavy water facility would also be discussed in the meeting.
INSTEX is a European initiative aimed at facilitating trade with Iran without the use of dollar, hence bypassing US sanctions. It is expected to expand and cover third parties in the long run, but the inclusion of oil transactions is yet to be decided by its stakeholders.
"If these functions are fulfilled, the chances of saving JCPOA will increase considerably," Ryabkov said, ISNA reported.
The Arak research reactor was set to be redesigned to cut its potential output of plutonium as agreed under JCPOA.
Washington and Beijing had initially formed a working group to assist Iran, but Britain was replaced after the US quit the deal and the work has "picked up pace" following a pause, according to the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi.