China dismisses any renegotiation of Iran nuclear deal, urges US to rejoin JCPOA

China says it does not support any renegotiation of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, reaffirming that the key to ending the stalemate over the multilateral deal is for the US to return to compliance and lift its anti-Iran sanctions.

In an interview with CGNT on Wednesday, Fu Cong, the director-general of the department of arms control in China’s Foreign Ministry, once again voiced Beijing’s opposition to calls on the part of the European co-signatories for changes to the original version of the agreement, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He was speaking following a virtual meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, whose future has been in limbo since May 2018 when the US abandoned the agreement, despite Iran’s strict compliance with its side of the bargain, and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions lifted by the UN-endorsed document.

Following Washington’s exit, the European co-signatories, despite expressing verbal support for the deal, failed to live up to their contractual commitments to Iran, namely protecting their business ties with Tehran against the American sanctions.

This prompted Tehran to go for retaliation on May 8, 2019, exactly one year after the US ditched the multilateral pact, when it began to suspend parts of its commitments on a stage-by-stage basis under Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.

Referring to Tehran’s retaliatory steps, the Chinese official said, “Iran has made it explicitly clear that once the US returns to the JCPOA and lifts all the sanctions, they are ready to reverse all the steps they have taken to reduce their commitment.”

“I think that is a major indication on the part of Iran and we have no reason to doubt that, because before the US withdrew from the agreement Iran was exemplary in its implementation of the agreement,” he said.

The comments came weeks after Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, toeing the line of America, spoke of what he called a “nuclear deal plus” with Iran that would also cover the country’s conventional missile program and regional role besides its nuclear program.

Fu, however, said the key to unlocking the current situation surrounding the JCPOA is Washington’s return to compliance with the agreement instead of making changes to the hard-won deal.

“We believe that the key to breaking this stalemate is for the US to return to the JCPOA,” he said.

“Of course, by that we mean that the US comes back to its commitments under the JCPOA and lifts all the sanctions related to the JCPOA, both on Iran and third-party entities and individuals,” said the Chinese official, adding that Iran should also come back to full compliance with the JCPOA.

Iran has repeatedly clarified to the Western parties to the deal that it will not renegotiate the deal, but it is ready to return to the original agreement if the other sides begin to live up to their commitments to Tehran.

Russia and China have backed Iran’s stance.

Joe Biden’s victory against President Donald Trump in the November 3 election has raised hopes for the survival of the JCPOA. Biden has said he hopes to return the US to the deal, which was reached while he was vice president. But he has also indicated he would like to expand it.