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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s deputy foreign minister said the announcement of the fifth and final step away from the 2015 nuclear deal does not signify Iran's exit from the accord, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"This step does not mean JCPOA is over or Iran has exited it, but we have reached a balance in JCPOA," Abbas Araqchi told reporters on the sidelines of the Tehran Dialogue Forum on Tuesday, ISNA reported.  

Iran announced on Sunday that it will no longer recognize any limits on its peaceful nuclear operations, after it implemented the fifth and final stage of scaling back its commitments, according to Financial Tribune.

The plan to gradually reduce compliance with the deal was adopted in May 2019 in response to the United States' unilateral exit in 2018 and the inability of European signatories to ensure the deal’s promised benefits. 

The move has been interpreted by some circles as Tehran's withdrawal from the accord. 

"The deal is all but dead, but we will do everything to slow and limit the [nuclear] proliferation slope that has been taken and try to save what can be saved," a European diplomat said, Reuters reported.

In a joint statement issued after the announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with JCPOA. 

Foreign ministers of the three countries met in Brussels on Tuesday to hold urgent talks to prepare their reaction to Tehran's decision. 



Restored Balance 

Iran argues that the deal is still alive, only with a more acceptable balance between rights and obligations. 

"With the US withdrawal from JCPOA, the balance of this international agreement had been disrupted, but now, we think by reducing JCPOA commitments, we have reached a sensible balance," Araqchi said.

He stressed that there is a chance of survival for JCPOA, if the other parties want. 

Iran has declared that its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency will continue and all nuclear steps will be reversed if the sanctions are removed or other parties can practically make up for its adverse effects. 

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday the substance of the Iran nuclear deal was slowly disappearing and European powers would decide in coming days whether to launch a dispute resolution process over what he called Iranian violations.

JCPOA's dispute resolution mechanism could culminate in the United Nations Security Council with a so-called snapback of global sanctions on Tehran. 

Araqchi said triggering the mechanism would naturally create conditions that lead to the collapse of the agreement. 

"Like Iran reacted sensitively after the US exit from JCPOA, it is expected that the other parties also act tactfully and avoid escalating tensions," he said. 

Nuclear experts, on the other hand, have interpreted Iran's statement as leaving the door open to talks. They said it was positive that Tehran had not threatened to enrich uranium to a fissile purity of 20% and that IAEA inspections would continue. 

The European Union's 28 foreign ministers are set to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday to discuss ways to save the deal.


JCPOA Iran nuclear deal Compliance exit Reducing Final Step