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Iran says it still respects 2015 nuclear deal

Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran Ali Larijani. (Kremlin/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran still observes a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers despite rolling back its commitments to the pact, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi told a news conference in Tehran on January 20.

“Tehran still remains in the deal…. The European powers’ claims about Iran violating the deal are unfounded,” Musavi said.

Iran had said earlier this month that it no longer considered itself bound by the agreement, from which the United States withdrew in 2018 while reimposing harsh economic sanctions on the country. Tehran has gradually reduced some of its commitments under the deal.

Germany, Britain, and France announced earlier this month that they had triggered the so-called dispute mechanism in the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The European states — signatories of the JCPOA along with China, Russia, the European Union, and, formerly, the United States — said that while the mechanism could lead to UN sanctions against Iran, they were not joining Washington’s yearlong “maximum pressure” campaign designed to change Tehran’s behavior.

“Whether Iran will further decrease its nuclear commitments will depend on other parties and whether Iran’s interests are secured under the deal,” Musavi said.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew the United States from the deal, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, agreeing curbs to its ballistic-missile program, and ending its support for “proxy” groups across the Middle East.

Washington, which wants to force Tehran to renegotiate the agreement, has since reimposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy.

On January 19, Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, warned European powers against taking “for any reason” an “unfair” approach to the dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal.

Tehran would “seriously reconsider our cooperation” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a result, Larijani, who is also a former chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran, was quoted as saying by state TV.