TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said all the remaining signatories to a 2015 landmark nuclear agreement have expressed support for the international agreement and vowed to keep it ‘alive’.

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“All remaining participants in the JCPOA confirmed once again the importance of this deal and their support for the deal, and their efforts, their willingness to protect this deal to make sure that the JCPOA would stay alive,” Araqchi told reporters after the 15th meeting of the JCPOA’s Joint Commission in Vienna.

“We are still open to any initiative, which can ensure Iran’s [benefits] of the JCPOA and we are fully prepared to reverse the steps we have taken so far in return for the fulfillment of the other sides’ commitments in the JCPOA,” he added, according to Press TV.

He said that during the Wednesday meeting the Europeans put forward more serious and pragmatic ideas to reinforce INSTEX, a non-dollar direct payment channel — officially called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, adding that INSTEX has almost reached an operational stage.

 “There is a willingness to strengthen INSTEX so it can cover major parts of Iran-EU trade. We discussed about different ways to strengthen this mechanism,” he said.

The three European signatories to the JCPOA — the UK, France and Germany — unveiled late in January 2019 the long-awaited mechanism meant to safeguard their trade ties with Tehran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and in the face of the harsh sanctions imposed by the United States against the Islamic Republic.

In its initial stage, INSTEX was supposed to facilitate trade of humanitarian goods such as medicine, food and medical devices, and later be expanded to cover other areas of trade, including Iran’s oil sales. However, it has not resulted in any trade deals so far.

In 2018, the US left the JCPOA and returned its sanctions against Iran in defiance of the agreement’s multilateral nature and the fact that it had been ratified by the United Nations Security Council.

Washington then began forcing other parties to toe its sanctions line. The three European signatories to the deal have stopped their transactions with the Islamic Republic, bowing under the pressure.

In response to the US moves, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.