“The Europeans claim they were willing to maintain the JCPOA, but we have not seen Europe yet to be ready for an investment,” Zarif told reporters in New York, ahead of a United Nations meeting on Monday.
Under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the parties to the deal are obliged to trade with Iran. Since the US unilaterally withdrew from the agreement last year, European signatories have implemented a non-dollar payment system to facilitate this trade, but have thus far limited trade to food and medicines. Tehran wants the Europeans to deal in Iranian oil, a cornerstone of the Islamic Republic’s economy but a sector heavily sanctioned by Washington.
Talking about saving the agreement “is totally different from being ready to make the investments required to save that deal and the Europeans have not done that yet,” Zarif told the press.
In response to the perceived European inaction, Tehran stepped up its uranium enrichment last Monday beyond the 3.67 percent purification cap set by the JCPOA. After the country’s nuclear agency threatened further increases in enrichment and the reactivation of dormant centrifuges, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi announced that Iran will give Europe 60 days to salvage the JCPOA through negotiations, and will offer no further deadlines.
Britain, Germany, and France have cautioned Iran against further enrichment increases, but refrained from applying sanctions. French president Emmanuel Macron dispatched a diplomat to Tehran late last week for talks, but threatened Iran with vague “consequences” if enrichment continues.
The United States, for its part, maintained its hardline stance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran that it could face “further sanctions and isolation” if it refuses to reverse course on its nuclear program, and Washington called a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in response.
“In all these meetings, the US’ unilateral policies have been condemned; now it’s time for Washington to return to the international community,” Zarif said on Sunday, days after the IAEA meeting ended with no agreement.