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28 Jul, 2019 16:06

Tanker seizure by Britain breaches nuclear deal – senior Iranian diplomat

Tanker seizure by Britain breaches nuclear deal – senior Iranian diplomat

Tehran has accused the UK of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal by seizing a crude oil tanker, as the parties to the agreement met for talks to salvage the pact undermined by the US withdrawal.

Representatives of the UK, Germany, France, Russia, China, and Iran – the remaining signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – met in Vienna on Sunday for emergency talks to save the deal, which has been crumbling after several rounds of US sanctions against Tehran and maritime tensions between Iran, the US, and UK.

Ahead of the meeting, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, showed it would not be the friendliest of gatherings, as he squarely accused London of violating the JCPOA by seizing the Grace 1, a supertanker carrying Iranian crude, near Gibraltar in early July. London claimed the ship was violating EU sanctions against Syria.

“We witnessed the seizure of an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Strait of Gibraltar which in our view is a violation of [the deal],” the diplomat told reporters. “And the countries who are part of [the deal] shouldn’t create obstacles for the export of Iranian oil.”

Tehran, which accused the UK of practicing “piracy,” seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it violated maritime rules. London then called for the creation of a joint European fleet to be deployed in the Persian Gulf, driving hostilities even further.

At the same time, the Iranian diplomat signaled that his country is ready to negotiate and comply with the deal once again if the other parties actually manage to fulfill their commitments. All the steps Tehran has taken – such as expanding uranium enrichment operations – “so far are reversible,” Araqchi said.

While little has emerged on what exactly was discussed during the talks, Araqchi described them as “constructive” afterwards. “Discussions were good. I cannot say that we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments,” he told reporters.

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Araqchi also signaled that Tehran maintains its position that the JCPOA signatories should take real steps to protect Iranian interests, and that mere proclamations of “commitments” are not enough.

“As we have said, we will continue to reduce our commitments to the deal until Europeans secure Iran’s interests under the deal.”

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