On July 14, 2020, Iran and the six major world powers - Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States - marked the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The landmark arms control agreement, reached in 2015, limited Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
But five years later, the JCPOA was in trouble. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions. Iran waited a year and then in July 2019 began incremental breaches of the agreement, such as surpassing limits on its uranium stockpile and installing advanced centrifuges. The United States pushed for new negotiations on a broader deal.
On the fifth anniversary of the agreement, President Hassan Rouhani vowed that the Islamic Republic “will never surrender to the pressure of major world powers, especially the United States."
On the fifth anniversary, Europe was still trying to salvage the deal with economic incentives for Iran and diplomacy among the five remaining members of the agreement. “The JCPOA remains the only tool to provide the international community with the necessary assurances regarding Iran’s nuclear program,” E.U. foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said. China and Russia also released statements defending the deal. The United States issued no formal statement.
Tehran blamed the international community for failing to fulfill commitments. "Unless the international community shall ensure the balanced implementation of all participants in good faith, it could be another victim of the U.S. unilateral and unlawful approach," the Iranian foreign ministry said. "The U.S. and its allies should bear the responsibility for the consequences of such policies."
The following are collected remarks on the fifth anniversary of the JCPOA.
Statement by Foreign Ministry
"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as an important achievement of multilateral diplomacy, which has been strongly supported by the international community, is in jeopardy on its fifth anniversary. Unless the international community shall ensure the balanced implementation of all participants in good faith, it could be another victim of the US unilateral and unlawful approach. The US and its allies should bear the responsibility for the consequences of such policies.
"The international, legal, technical, strategic and political capital of this agreement has been deeply eroded on its fifth anniversary, due to the destructive and illegal actions of the United States. The remaining Participants of the JCPOA are aware of this and by consensus are of the view that the root cause for the current situation is the continuous violations of UNSCR 2231 and the JCPOA, and ultimately the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from an agreement reached after years of hard multilateral negotiations. The US significant non-performance to its obligations under UNSCR 2231, and the lack of will on the part of remaining Participants to restore the lost balance to the JCPOA, have complicated the current situation around JCPOA and effectively impeded the Islamic Republic of Iran to adhere to its undertakings. As a result of this malign policy of the US, Iran cannot benefit from the effects of JCPOA sanctions lifting.
"Unfortunately, the situation has developed in such a way that we must once again remind the remaining Participants of the JCPOA, as well as the Member States of the United Nations, of the rights and obligations contained in this agreement, which was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231; from the emphasis of Resolution 2231 on “promoting and facilitating the development of normal economic and trade contacts and cooperation with Iran” and “its full implementation on the timetable established in the JCPOA” and UNSCR 2231, to the importance of the JCPOA sanctions lifting as one of the main pillars of the agreement.
"The JCPOA was a negotiated diplomatic solution to the peaceful settlement of an artificial crisis over the Islamic Republic of Iran's peaceful nuclear program, which is comprehensive and final in nature. Iran entered the negotiations seriously, with a forward looking approach, and implemented the outcome of the negotiations in good faith. Transparency and voluntary confidence-building measures, beyond the obligations under the Safeguards Agreement, was part of the Islamic Republic of Iran's efforts to reassure the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program, in return it was supposed inhuman sanctions imposed under the pretext of the nuclear program be lifted. Unfortunately, not only the Islamic Republic of Iran did not enjoy the economic benefits of the JCPOA sanction lifting, but once again the opponents of the JCPOA actively based on unsubstantiated allegations on past safeguard issues that was supposed under the JCPOA once for all be closed, trying to fully destroy the achievements of the JCPOA.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has so far had a constructive and extensive cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the statistics on the number and volume of inspections and verifications carried out in the Islamic Republic of Iran attest this fact. Any attempt to misuse the IAEA to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran is inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the JCPOA, and undermining the IAEA's credibility as the only competent international technical body to monitor States' nuclear activities; it also could negatively affect thecurrent safeguards implementation. Furthermore, any companionship of some remaining participants of the JCPOA with US conspiracies against the agreement, particularly to destruct and undermine of the very text of the UNSCR 2231, inter alia, lifting of arms restrictions in the fifth year of adoption of the JCPOA in October 2020, is matter of grave concern, and as has been repeatedly emphasized, the renegotiation of the provisions of JCPOA and amending of the sanctions lifting regime will not be tolerated under any circumstances, and the response of the Islamic Republic of Iran will be firm and decisive. The comprehensiveness and finality of this agreement, which has been achieved with difficulty and after two years of intensive negotiations at the highest levels, with all the details and with a precise time frame, should not be compromised in any way. There is no alternative to this agreement; therefore, if there is a political will of the international community, especially the remaining participants of the JCPOA, to preserve this agreement, it is essential to contemplate on ensuring the balanced implementation of the agreement in good faith.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran appreciates the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation for their constructive actions and positions which have been exercised in good faith at the Security Council, the Board of Governors and the Joint Commission for the preservation and implementation of the JCPOA, and hopes that the continuity of these efforts provide the necessary ground for the full implementation of the JCPOA.
"Finally, while reiterating its readiness to preserve and fully implement the provisions of the JCPOA by all participants to this agreement, in particular, the need for Iran to fully benefit from the economic effects of the lifting of sanctions regime, as envisaged in the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to take decisive action against any exaggeration and irresponsible behavior, and strongly urges the E3 to adhere to their commitments, and to preserve and fully implement the UN Security Council instead of moving in the direction of the US maximum pressure policy."
Today is 5th anniv. of the #JCPOA—last decade’s greatest diplomatic achievement—and reminder that US lawless behavior should not be the yardstick by which int'l norms are measured.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 14, 2020
US contempt for law & diplomacy places it in global disrepute & threatens global—and US—security. pic.twitter.com/m2KoTHwhj4
President Hassan Rouhani Addresses the Cabinet
"The P4+1 countries should know that today it is not about Iran's relations with them or the countries in the region, and if they do not act carefully because of the influence of the United States, they will damage the international law, multilateralism and valuing international agreements, and it will be to everyone’s detriment."
"We hope that with the vigilance of countries, especially the P4+1 member states, regarding the end of the arms embargo on Iran, the United States will fail failed to advance its political and legal actions against Tehran, as it has so far."
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will never surrender to the pressure of major world powers, especially the United States...Despite the efforts of the United States, Iran has never been -and will never be- isolated, and its progress on the track of development will not stop."
“Americans should know that despite their persistence on working against the interests of the Iranian people, they will never achieve their goals."
"The country’s economic record in the year 1398 shows that despite the pressure of sanctions and the problems caused by coronavirus, inflation rate has decreased and our economic growth without our oil has been positive."
"The proof of Iran’s peace-seeking approach and the loss of credibility of anti-Iranian propaganda, which has been going for many years, the destruction of the enemy’s platform created for undermining Iran's national security, and the cancellation of Security Council resolutions, along with the end of the Iranian arms embargo, are achievements of the JCPOA that have survived to this day, despite US efforts."
"The illegal withdrawal of the #US gov't from the #JCPOA is the result of the sinister efforts of the #Zionists, reactionary leaders and extremists in the US," said Pres. @HassanRouhani referring to the 5th anniversary of Iran nuclear deal. pic.twitter.com/vPf286zObs— IranGov.ir (@Iran_GOV) July 15, 2020
Statement by EU High Representative Josep Borrell
"Today, on the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the preservation of the agreement is more important than ever. The JCPOA was concluded on 14 July 2015 and subsequently endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2231). It is a historic multilateral achievement for global nuclear non-proliferation and is contributing to regional and global security.
"The JCPOA remains the only tool to provide the international community with the necessary assurances regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. It consists of nuclear-related commitments to be implemented by Iran in exchange for sanctions-lifting by the international community with a view to normalising trade and economic relations with Iran. The agreement also provides for unprecedented monitoring and verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and I commend the continuous professional, technical and impartial work of the agency. The full implementation of the JCPOA by all sides remains crucial.
"Regrettably the US decided in May 2018 to withdraw from the JCPOA and have not participated in any meeting or activity since. The remaining participants of the JCPOA continue to work collectively to address, within the framework of the agreement, existing concerns regarding nuclear implementation, as well as the wider impacts of the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA and its re-imposition of sanctions.
"As the Coordinator of the JCPOA Joint Commission, I am determined to do everything possible together with the remaining participants of the JCPOA and the international community to preserve the agreement. We should not assume that an opportunity will arise again in the future for the international community to address Iran’s nuclear programme in such a comprehensive manner."
5 years ago the #JCPOA was concluded in Vienna. Today is under great pressure on multiple fronts. If we do manage to preserve the #IranDeal and ensure its full implementation, it can still become a stepping-stone toward addressing other shared concerns https://t.co/EUAvCuKPly— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) July 14, 2020
Statement by Foreign Ministry
"Five years ago, on July 14, 2015, the foreign ministers of Great Britain, Germany, Iran, China, Russia, France and the United States, with the participation of the EU, concluded settlement agreements for the Iranian nuclear program that were unique in their scope and reach.
"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action driven by the common political will of the countries participating in its development and reinforced by UNSC Resolution 2231 was a major achievement of multilateral diplomacy. It showed the benefits and effectiveness of the decisions made during the talks that prevailed over approaches based on threats, pressure and brute force.
"The success of the JCPOA was possible because the parties involved in the talks were able to find a common language and hear and understand each other's concerns and, most importantly, find the keys to resolving one of the most difficult and long-standing conflicts in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation based on international law and generally recognised instruments.
"Over a relatively short period of time, the JCPOA made it possible to provide comprehensive answers to the questions that the IAEA had at that time regarding the Iranian nuclear program, while providing an unprecedented level of transparency.
"Today, there’s no state verified by the IAEA more than Iran.
"Contrary to the speculations that have been occasionally heard in the West, the JCPOA has never been aimed at calling into question or restricting Tehran’s legal rights to develop peaceful nuclear programs enshrined in Article IV of the NPT. On the contrary, the agreements paved the way for expanded mutually beneficial cooperation with Iran in the field of nuclear energy, as well as other economic, trade, scientific and technical spheres.
"Most importantly, what the opponents and critics of the JCPOA prefer to keep silent about, are the agreements built on an equal footing which rely on a carefully aligned balance of interests and reciprocal commitments. There were no losers among the JCPOA participants. The entire world benefited from its conclusion.
"Today, five years on, we have to admit that the implementation of the JCPOA constantly requires enormous endurance and perseverance from its participants. The root cause of the many difficulties and challenges that arise in the process of implementing the agreements is the unilateral abandoning by the United States of its obligations and numerous gross violations of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
"The maximum pressure policy adopted by Washington, which it decided to use to impose sanctions not only on Iran, but also on the JCPOA, is short-sighted and erroneous. This policy discredits the United States and opposes it to the rest of the world, which is strongly advocating rigorous implementation of the Security Council resolutions and consistent and comprehensive implementation of the JCPOA in accordance with the initially agreed-upon goals and parameters. The state, which is one of the key co-sponsors of a major agreement and the above-mentioned UN Security Council resolution, has been refusing to act on them for more than two years now and is stubbornly preventing others from doing so, undermining respect for it as a responsible agent of international relations capable of concluding and fulfilling international treaties.
"The current White House administration should realize that the United States has and will always have obligations to the rest of the world, which it must fulfill. These are the principles of coexistence in a world based on universally recognized norms of international law, rather than the rules that someone is trying to write and rewrite to suit their own needs to the detriment of others.
"Failures and challenges in implementing the JCPOA do not diminish its achievements. Its settlement arrangement has not lost its relevance. Like five years ago, the world does not have a more reliable and effective choice when it comes to implementing the agreed-upon decisions of the UN Security Council rather than settling accounts. The chances of the JCPOA returning to a steady operation mode remain intact. Russia will make every effort for this and encourage its partners to work together meaningfully to find ways to de-escalate and protect the JCPOA from the US attacks.
"The JCPOA detractors have nothing to offer to replace it. Their agenda is focused on destruction and nothing else. For the sake of their own ambitions and a false sense of exceptionalism, they are prepared to act recklessly, break agreements, escalate military-political tension in the Middle East, provoke a crisis at the UN Security Council and to try to achieve their election goals while doing so. This path leads nowhere. The JCPOA was designed to prevent the implementation of military scenarios and to avert the threat of war that was looming over the Gulf region.
"It has no alternative now, either.
"We urge our JCPOA partners and other UN members to show political will and defend it. The UN member states have no room for error today."
Statement by Foreign Ministry
"This July 14 marks the fifth anniversary of the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On June 7, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General and the rotating president of the UN Security Council, elaborating on China's position and proposition on the Iranian nuclear issue. Today I would like to take this occasion to reiterate China's firm support for the JCPOA.
"Five years ago, the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union) and Iran reached the historic JCPOA in Vienna. This important outcome of multilateral diplomacy was then endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The JCPOA has become a key element of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, an important positive factor in maintaining regional and global peace and stability, an excellent example of resolving regional issues through multilateral approaches.
"Unfortunately, the US has in recent years been upholding unilateralism, renouncing its international obligations, and withdrawing from treaties and organizations. It withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and thwarted in every means other parties' implementation of the agreement. Such clear violation of the UNSCR 2231 has led to continued tension over the Iranian nuclear issue. At present, the US attempts to further undermine the JCPOA by pushing for the extension of Security Council arms embargo against Iran and threatening to activate the snap-back mechanism.
"China believes that preserving and implementing the JCPOA is the right way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran's scaling back of compliance is the result of the maximum pressure exerted by the US. Parties to the JCPOA should strengthen dialogue and consultation within the framework of the Joint Commission, seek a solution to the compliance dispute in a step-by-step and reciprocal approach, and restore the balance of rights and obligations under the JCPOA. The parties should support strengthened dialogue and cooperation between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran in order to properly resolve the safeguards issue as soon as possible. At the same time, the international community should jointly oppose the US pushing the Security Council to extend or reinstate sanctions against Iran and urge the US to return to the right track of compliance with the JCPOA and UNSCR.
"On the Iranian nuclear issue, China's unwavering aim is to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East, and to uphold multilateralism, the authority of the UN, and the international order based on international law. In the process of negotiating the JCPOA, China actively promoted peace talks, put forward China's proposals at a critical moments and made due contributions to reaching the agreement. In the implementation of the agreement, China has conscientiously fulfilled its obligations and led the Arak Modernization Project with positive progress, which has become a major highlight. No matter how the international situation evolves, China will always stand on the right side of history and work with other parties to the JCPOA to continue advancing the political and diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue. At the same time, we will firmly safeguard our legitimate rights and interests."