Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has attacked European calls for Tehran to return to the 2015 nuclear energy deal before the US.
In his latest unequivocal Twitter post, Zarif accused the "E3" group signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement — Britain, France and Germany — to return to the deal while the US remains in breach by continuing to impose sanctions.
He referred to paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, which sets out how disputes between the parties, which also include Russia, China and the European Union, should be resolved. The text states that if claims that one party has broken the deal are not settled within 80 days, the complainant has the right to withdraw.
"By what logic is the onus on IRAN to stop its remedial measures undertaken a full year after the US withdrew from—and continues to violate—the JCPOA?" Zarif demanded. "What have E3 done to fulfill their duties?"
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 12, 2021
The JCPOA recognises Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, in return for pledges not to develop nuclear weapons, backed by a regime of UN inspections. In return the US and E3 nations agreed to drop sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
Former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and re-imposed the sanctions. In January 2020 Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qasem Soleimani in a drone attack at Baghdad Airport, raising tensions to a new peak.
Iran marked the anniversary of Soleimani's killing by beginning enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent concentration of the fissile isotope U-235 in breach of the JCPOA terms — far less than needed for a nuclear weapon but more than is used in most atomic reactors.
Hopes that new US President Joe Biden would quickly revive the agreement negotiated when he was vice-president to Barack Obama have proved false, with Washington demanding Tehran stop enriching Uranium and return to full compliance before it would even discuss following suit by lifting the sanctions.
Zarif Condemned the Biden administration's stance in a tweet on Thursday.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 11, 2021