EghtesadOnline: A senior Chinese diplomat said on Sunday the Iran nuclear deal is an internationally "significant" agreement and called on the United States and European signatories to help revive it.
"Effective measures are needed to salvage JCPOA, which is an important diplomatic achievement. It can be saved only through multilateralism, the rule of law and rejection of unilateralism and hegemony," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araqchi, in Beijing, IRNA reported.
The pact, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been weakened following US President Donald Trump's May 2018 decision to withdraw the United States and impose stringent sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Attempting to maintain the deal, European partners have established the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges or INSTEX, a payment channel designed to allow European firms to continue trading with Iran despite US sanctions. However, it has remained inactive and it is not clear how effective it could be, Financial Tribune reported.
In response to the US exit and Europe's failure to guarantee Iran's economic benefits under the agreement, Tehran has deliberately exceeded uranium enrichment levels allowed under the deal. It has threatened to scale back more commitments, if the economic situation does not improve. However, Iranian authorities say these measures are "reversible".
Root Cause of Crisis
The Chinese diplomat said the US "maximum pressure" strategy against Iran is the underlying cause of the existing crisis over the nuclear deal and urged the Trump administration to lift sanctions and return to the agreement.
Ma was also quoted as saying that Europe should act more quickly to make INSTEX operational, as it could be a positive step toward saving the deal.
Germany, Britain and France kick-started the mechanism and six more European countries recently announced that they have joined the EU financial vehicle.
Finland, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden will now be part of INSTEX.
The Chinese vice foreign minister said his country will make every effort to keep the agreement alive, as it believes the existing tensions should be resolved only through diplomatic channels.
On bilateral issues, he said China and Iran are "strategic partners" and Beijing is always seeking to expand ties with Tehran.
Araqchi—who had traveled to the Chinese capital to hold consultations over the situation surrounding the nuclear deal and the next Joint Commission meeting—told the press conference that JCPOA is an "international diplomatic achievement" and all countries have a "responsibility" to save it.
The Joint Commission monitors the implementation of the nuclear deal. Officials from China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain will meet with Iran in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 6 to discuss how to uphold the agreement. It will be chaired by European External Action Service Secretary-General Helga Schmid.
Araqchi said Iran should not be criticized for reducing its compliance with the nuclear deal as it fully implemented the terms of the agreement for a year after the US withdrawal.
"Tehran's recent nuclear steps have been taken within the framework of JCPOA and do not mean that Iran is exiting the agreement. Rather, they are meant to save the deal," he added.
Article 26 of the agreement states that Iran will treat a reintroduction or reimposition of the specified sanctions or an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions as "grounds to cease performing its commitments under JCPOA in whole or part".
The Iranian deputy foreign minister also thanked China for its efforts toward salvaging the agreement and expressed hope that bilateral ties would be consolidated further in the future.