A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator says US Congress vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years was a violation of the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement, calling for measures to redress the breach.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi made the remarks in an interview with IRIB in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of a high-level commission monitoring the implementation of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
“The extension of the Iran Sanctions Act is a breach of the US obligations under the JCPOA and must be compensated in an effective way,” he said.
He noted that the meeting was called at Iran’s request in order to discuss Washington’s violation of the JCPOA.
The monitoring body convened for a sixth meeting on Tuesday, with deputies and political directors from Iran and the P5+1 – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany -- as well as European Union Political Director Helga Schmid in attendance. The meeting was co-chaired by Schmid and Araqchi. The two had also met earlier in the day.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council started implementing the JCPOA in January 2016.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
Araqchi noted that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier written to the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and complained about the US violation of the JCPOA, particularly the renewal of ISA.
In his official letter to the EU foreign policy chief, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran and the P5+1 group of countries needed to hold a joint commission meeting to address the renewal of ISA against Tehran.
Araqchi further noted that experts from both Iran and the P5+1 group of countries had held talks in Vienna on Monday and reached positive conclusions ahead of a meeting between the Iranian and US delegations.
On December 1, the US Senate voted to extend ISA for another 10 years after the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed its bill on November 15. The sanctions law, which would authorize the US president to re-impose sanctions on Iran, was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program and its support for anti-Israeli resistance groups.
US President Barack Obama later declined to sign the bill renewing the existing sanctions against Iran, but allowed the legislation to become law.
Obama argues the act is largely symbolic since its measures are suspended as long as the nuclear deal remains in place.
In a retaliatory measure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instructed the foreign minister on December 13, 2016 to take against the US violations of the JCPOA as per the provisions of the deal and to take other legal and international measures necessary in that regard.
He also ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to plan work on nuclear propulsion vessels to be used in sea transport.