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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Qatar to ‘spare no efforts’ to help revive US-Iran nuclear deal

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The 2015 nuclear deal has been a key area of discussion, with Doha calling for diplomatic efforts to return to the historic accord.

Qatar said it will spare no efforts in its mediation efforts between the United States and Iran, advocating for a swift return to the nuclear deal.

Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani made the comments after senior-level meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran on Monday, including his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif  as well as President Hassan Rouhani.

Commenting on his Doha’s mediation efforts to restore the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], Al Thani said Qatar hopes its return comes “as soon s possible”.

“We hope that with the return of the US to the nuclear deal as soon as possible, challenges and sanctions can be alleviated within the framework of the deal, and Qatar will not spare any efforts to make that happen,” Al Thani said during the first high-level talks in Tehran.

In meetings with Zarif, the two diplomats also discussed relations between Doha and Tehran, as well as issues of common concern in the region.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have heightened since former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed stifling sanctions on Iran.

Read also: Could Qatar’s strategic location help allay US-Iran tensions?

However, the new Biden administration has in recent weeks been reviewing the deal. Experts believe the Democrat president is likely to revive the historic accord.

Signed between Iran and the P5+1 – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany – the deal limited Tehran’s nuclear weapon production in exchange for the lifting of sanctions on the country.

Last week, Qatar’s FM said Doha has been in contact with both Iran and the US as part of  efforts to ensure regional stability while calling for diplomatic efforts to return to the nuclear deal.

“Iran is a neighbouring state and what happens in the region reflects on us directly and the United States is a strategic ally and it’s important to not see any escalations,” the Qatari official said.

Responding to Qatar’s latest efforts, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said his country welcomes Doha’s support in ensuring the continuation of the JCPOA.

“Qatar is one of Iran’s regional friends and partners. There have been close consultations between Iran and Qatar at different levels,” the official told the press on Monday. “Tehran hails any effort to reduce the tensions, but the fulfilment of commitments by the US needs no messages,” he added.

Qatar mediation

Tensions between the US and Iran spiked last year with the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, placing the region at the edge of military escalation. At the time, Qatar stepped in to mediate between the two states to calm the situation.

The Gulf state is also seen as a key mediator in the region.

Last week, a senior US official said Qatar’s geographic location could also help assist mediation efforts between Iran and the United States.

“I mean, the geography of Qatar, just to take a look at a map, places it at the very centre of the region. Certainly when you consider the problem with Iran, they have a large role to play in that,” said US Commander General Kenneth McKenzie.

Doha has on several occasions expressed willingness to mediate between the two states. It has also said it is prepared to mediate to calm regional tensions between Iran and other GCC states.

Looming deadline

The visit on Monday comes less than a week ahead of the February 21 deadline set by Iran to expel the United Nations’ inspector – assigned to monitor its nuclear activity – unless the US lifts all sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Last November, Iran’s parliament passed a law demanding an end to International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] inspections of its nuclear sites as well as the continuation of Tehran’s uranium production, which it has since resumed.

“According to the law, if the Americans do not lift financial, banking and oil sanctions by February 21st, we will definitely expel the IAEA inspectors from the country and will definitely end the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” said parliamentarian Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani.


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