RFL/RE – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged China, Russia, and other “partners” to take “concrete action” to safeguard a nuclear deal that the United States exited a year ago.
Zarif made the call on May 17 upon arriving in Beijing where he held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
Along with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia, China is a signatory to the 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Iran’s sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
But the United States pulled out of the accord in May 2018 and unilaterally reintroduced crippling sanctions on Iran.
Tehran last week said that it is scaling down on some of its commitments under the deal to pressure the remaining parties to the pact to protect Iran from the sanctions.
“So far, the international community has mainly made statements instead of saving the deal,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.
“The practical step is quite clear: Economic relations with Iran should be normalized. This is what the deal clearly addresses,” the top Iranian diplomat added.
Zarif’s trip to China followed quick visits to Japan and India.
Earlier this month, the U.S. administration withdrew waivers to China, Japan, India and six other nations that had allowed them to import some Iranian crude without being exposed to punitive action under the U.S. sanctions.
Washington has ramped up pressure on Tehran in recent days, bolstering the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf to counter what U.S. officials called “imminent” threats from Iran against the interests of the United States or its allies.
Iran has dismissed the allegations and accused the United States of an “unacceptable” escalation of tensions.
Speaking in Tokyo, Zarif said there was “no possibility” of talks with the United States to reduce escalating tensions.
In announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. President Donald Trump said the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address Iran’s missile program or Tehran’s support for militants in the region.
Iran denies it supports insurgent activity and has said its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy purposes.