Unity among sanctions-hit countries only way to counter US unilateralism: Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said unity among the countries that have been targeted by US sanctions is the only way to counter “unilateral and illegal” measures taken by Washington.
Rouhani made the remarks in a Sunday phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which he announced Tehran’s support for Ankara in the face of US sanctions, according to Press TV.
“The only way to counteract the illegal and unilateral measures taken by the United States is unity and empathy among countries that have been sanctioned,” Rouhani said.
Pointing to unlawful measures taken by the administration of former US president Donald Trump, he added, “Lifting sanctions [imposed] by the US is a legal and rational demand by Iran, which we have repeatedly emphasized, and if it happens, Iran will return to its commitments [under a 2015 nuclear agreement].”
As has been repeatedly announced, Iran will employ an “action against action” policy in the face of the new US administration, Rouhani said.
In 2015, Iran and six world states – namely, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany – signed a historic nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – which was ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
However, under Trump, the US unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the deal.
The Trump administration also launched what it called a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” restrictive measures.
“President Erdogan, who stated that he wished the new US administration would abandon unilateral sanctions on Iran and lift restrictions on the prosperity of Iranian people, said the statements on the issue in recent days had led to a new window of opportunity,” Rouhani said in a statement, according to Reuters.
“Erdogan said it was the most reasonable course of action for all parties to meet at the point of making the Comprehensive Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action operational again, and that it is important to keep the door for dialogue open despite all difficulties.”
Sanctioned by Washington last year for its purchase of Russian defense systems, Ankara has repeatedly called for a lifting of US sanctions on Iran and a return to the JCPOA.
Persian, integral part of Afghan-Iranian identities: IRNA chief
Persian is the second language of the holy religion of Islam and is also the integral part of both Afghan and Iranian identities, said the managing director of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Mohammad Reza Norouzpour made the remarks while hosting Abdul Latif Pedram, the leader of Afghanistan’s National Congress Party (NCP), as well as Abed Akbari, chairman of the Abrar Institute of Contemporary International Studies and Research in Tehran.
Norouzpour stressed the need for the expansion of mutual cooperation between Kabul and Tehran, especially in the fields of culture and information dissemination, which would boost development and diplomacy in both friendly countries, according to IRNA.
The IRNA chief also expressed readiness to provide Afghan students with educational and cultural courses such as inclusive programs for training news writing, filmmaking and multimedia know-how.
He added that Afghanistan and Iran are two brotherly and neighboring countries, which have numerous historical and cultural commonalities, including Norouz and the Persian language, adding that the rich Persian literature and language, as the second language of Islam, is considered part of the identity of the nations in the region, namely, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran.
Norouzpour emphasized the role of news agencies and newspapers of both countries in expanding bilateral relations.
Expressing concern about certain attempts against the Persian language in the West Asia region, he noted that foreigners have always tried to sow discord among tribes and nations of the region.
He further underlined that “the campaign against the Persian language is not a campaign against Iranian nationality and ethnicity,” noting that the language is one of the commonalities of the people residing in the region, and that such a campaign is in fact against the identity of several nations.
For his part, Pedram welcomed Norouzpour’s suggestion for the expansion of cultural ties, expressing hope that Afghan students could enjoy capacities of IRNA in information dissemination.
Pedram, who is known as a politician, author, poet and reporter in Afghanistan and represents Badakhshan Province in the country’s Parliament, noted that IRNA is a prominent news agency in the eyes of the Afghan people.
The leader of Afghanistan’s National Congress Party is one of the famous Afghan political figures, who opposed the US invasion of his country and also condemned the American assassination of Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.
He appreciated Iran for holding the Norouz diplomacy meeting on Monday, aimed to promote friendship, cultural collaboration and convergence among regional nations, describing the event as an opportunity to bolster amicable ties between Iran and Afghanistan.
Pedram and his entourage took a tour of different sections of the news agency and became acquainted with the procedure of producing news items in 20 languages by the staff of IRNA.
Leader: Uranium enrichment based on Iran’s need, may reach 60%
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Monday that Iran may enrich uranium up to 60% purity if needed.
Ayatollah Khamenei added the Islamic Republic will not back down on its right to peaceful nuclear technology and will continue its progress in this field in line with the country’s present and future needs.
“Like other issues, the Islamic Republic will not back down on the nuclear issues [in the face of Western pressures] and will continue to march forward on the basis of the country’s present and future expediencies,” Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks during a Monday evening meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran.
The Leader censured the US and E3 for failing to fulfill their commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that Iran complied with JCPOA obligations from the very beginning.
Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized that Iran will resume the full implementation of the JCPOA if other parties fully abide by the agreement.
Underlining the fact that Iran will never move toward development of nuclear weapons, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said, “What prevents the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons is the Islamic way of thinking and principles, which prohibit production of all kinds of weapons, including nuclear or chemical, which would be used to massacre ordinary people,” Press TV reported.
Referring to the massacre of 220,000 innocent people in the US nuclear bombardment of two Japanese cities during World War II as well as the indiscriminate bombardment of the Yemeni people, their markets, hospitals and schools by Western-made warplanes, the Leader said, “Massacring civilians and innocent people is the way of Americans and Western countries, but the Islamic Republic does not believe in this method and, therefore, never thinks about nuclear weapons.”
“In the meantime, that international Zionist clown, who keeps saying that ‘we will not allow Iran to build nuclear weapons’, must know that if the Islamic Republic had any decision to produce nuclear weapons, he and those bigger than him could not prevent it.”
Governor: CBI reaches deal with South Korea on transfer of part of Iran’s assets
Japan told to cooperate on blocked assets
The Central Bank of Iran said it has reached an agreement with South Korea on the release of frozen Iranian assets in the East Asian country.
The Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati and South Korea’s Ambassador to Tehran Ryu Jeong-Hyun held a meeting at the request of the Korean Embassy, reaching an agreement on how to release and spend part of Iran’s assets blocked in South Korea, according to the CBI, Tasnim News Agency reported.
It said the two sides have come to an agreement on transferring the Iranian financial resources to certain destinations, as South Korea has been informed about the CBI’s decisions about the volume of the transactions and the destination banks.
The South Korean ambassador has reportedly expressed Seoul’s readiness to take whatever measures necessary to use all of Iran’s financial resources in South Korea “without any limits”.
The CBI chief has welcomed a shift in South Korea’s policy, saying, “Although the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes a change in the stances of countries and increased cooperation, the bank’s legal actions to demand compensation for non-cooperation from the Korean banks in recent years will remain in place.”
The top Iranian banker has made it clear that South Korea should make a great deal of effort to make up for the negative attitude it had taken in the past.
Since 2019 when then US president, Donald Trump, ended the US sanctions waivers for South Korea to buy Iran’s oil, Tehran and Seoul have been at loggerheads over the latter’s blocking of some seven billion dollars of Iran’s cash assets, IFP reported.
Korea was one of the main purchasers of Iran’s oil after the nuclear agreement. It also turned into the largest buyer of Iran’s oil derivatives and gas at the same time. However, after souring the ties, they lost access to Iran’s oil and also the country’s large market for their products.
Earlier, the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister visited Iran and held talks with the country’s top officials. His visit raised hopes that after the end of Trump’s era Tehran and Seoul could mend ties again.
Talks with Japan envoy
Hemmati also held talks with Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Kazutoshi Aikawa.
The CBI governor urged Japan to cooperate regardless of political pressure and take an initiative and help Iran transfer its fund.
The envoy, for his part, pledged to improve the relations between the two countries’ banks in an effort to settle the issue.
Last week, Iran’s foreign minister called on Japan to unfreeze Iran’s assets blocked in Japanese banks due to the US sanctions, and also persuade newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden to lift the bans imposed on Iran.
Speaking in an interview with Kyodo News, Mohammad Javad Zarif called Japan an old friend of Iran and noted its good relations with the United States, Press TV reported.
“We expect Japan to act as a friend, particularly when it comes to international law,” Zarif said, referring to the illegal nature of the US sanctions.
“Since the United States is violating international law, the best role that Japan can play is to show Americans that Japan will not implement their illegal decisions,” he said.
Zarif specifically called on Japan to unfreeze Iranian assets frozen in Japanese banks due to US sanctions, as a gesture to Iran by the new government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who came to power last September.
According to Zarif, frozen assets in Japan and South Korea total close to $10 billion. Japan’s share – mainly revenue from crude oil exports to Japan – is estimated to be just under $3 billion.
Iran to stop implementing Additional Protocol today
Iran reiterated on Monday that it will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Safeguards Agreement today.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iran’s voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol will be suspended while some of the necessary verification and monitoring activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency will continue for up to three months within the Safeguards Agreement, Press TV reported.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf also emphasized on Monday that the country is determined to stop implementation of the Additional Protocol, limit access of the IAEA inspectors and to implement all the legal issues, IRNA reported.
Therefore, any access beyond the Safeguards is prohibited and illegal, said Qalibaf, adding that monitoring the issue should be done by the Parliament.
Addressing an open session of the Parliament, he said according to the law, parts of the stipulated commitments have been done in their time and from Tuesday the law concerning the Additional Protocol should be implemented.
The National Security and Foreign Policy Committee and Energy Committee of the Parliament have the responsibility to have field inspections and provide a report, he said, adding that naturally, any violation of the law will be dealt with according to the laws passed by the Parliament.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khatibzadeh added Sunday’s agreement with IAEA is in complete conformity with a recent law passed by the Iranian Parliament that pushes the country’s nuclear program forward.
“What has been done is entirely within the framework of the Parliament’s legislation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference on Monday, hinting at an agreement reached between Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), and Rafael Grossi, the director general of the IAEA, in Tehran on Sunday, Press TV reported.
Grossi arrived in the Iranian capital late Saturday for talks about issues relating to the agency’s monitoring of Iran’s nuclear energy program. His visit came after Tehran officially informed the IAEA of its decision to end the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, which allows the IAEA inspectors to carry out closer inspections of Iran’s nuclear program.
“Technical talks were held with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and significant diplomatic and technical achievements were made,” Khatibzadeh said, echoing Grossi’s Sunday night tweet that hailed the “good results” achieved during his trip.
Khatibzadeh explained that according to the new agreement, Iran will refuse to share footage from cameras at its nuclear sites with the IAEA.
He further emphasized that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran expended considerable efforts so that the agreement would be in accordance with the Parliament’s law.
Back in December, Iranian legislators passed a law to further accelerate the development of the nuclear program. The law is a firm reaction to Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and the illegal sanctions the US has imposed against Iran since then.
Among other things, the law tasked the Iranian administration to stop allowing inspections beyond the Safeguards Agreement, including the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, if the other parties to the JCPOA failed to deliver on their commitments.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khatibzadeh emphasized that the move was not a new chance for the United States.
He urged the Biden administration to decide whether it wants to pursue the failed “maximum pressure” policy of the former administration, which he said would end in “maximum defeat” for the US, or to distance itself from that legacy of failure.
According to the spokesman, the US not only left the JCPOA, but it also set traps along the way so that no one would be able to remain in the deal or benefit from it. He was referring to the secondary sanctions that the administration of former president Donald Trump imposed on anyone cooperating with Iran.
“We have defined the way back [to the JCPOA], and accordingly, the United States must first adhere to its commitments to enter the deal,” he said, adding sanctions have to be first removed, so they can enter the negotiations.