Remarks by H.E. Mr. Fu Cong, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, on “JCPOA: Possible Steps to Prevent Further Escalation and Sustain the Deal” at the 2019 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference
Moscow, 9 November 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Several days ago, the Iranian government announced the fourth step of scaling down its commitments under the JCPOA. While noting that many countries have expressed concerns on Iran’s latest moves, the Chinese side reminds all parties to keep the following two fundamental points in mind.
First, the root cause of the current tension of the Iranian nuclear issue lies with the US policy of maximum pressure against Iran. The situation was originally calm until the US reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran and impeded implementation of the JCPOA by others through long-arm jurisdiction. As a result, Iran is forced to reduce its nuclear commitments since it cannot enjoy the economic benefits embedded in the nuclear deal. This is the logic behind the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Second, Iran’s reduction of its commitments under the JCPOA does not pose substantial nuclear proliferation risk. Iran is still fulfilling its NPT full-scope Safeguards obligations, and has repeatedly reiterated its readiness to reverse course at any time once the economic benefits are guaranteed.
Having said that, one cannot fail to recognize that the current situation of the Iranian nuclear issue is heading towards a dangerous direction. And therefore, the international community should make concerted efforts to seek a political and diplomatic solution. In this regard, China wishes to make the following points:
First, the fundamental principle of multilateralism should be upheld. The JCPOA is a hard-won victory of multilateral diplomacy, reached through negotiations and endorsed by the UN Security Council. Preserving the JCPOA serves the good purpose of safeguarding multilateralism, the authority of the UN Security Council, and the international order based on international law. In this connection, I wish to recall that at the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in September, all the remaining parties reaffirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.
Second, the balance between rights and obligations under the JCPOA should be maintained. The nuclear deal not only limits Iran’s nuclear program, but also guarantees Iran’s economic benefits. The balance disrupted by the US withdrawal from the deal and resumption of sanctions on Iran need to be restored. We encourage our European colleagues to make more efforts to ensure that the Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) achieve tangible results, expand the coverage of INSTEX to energy fields and open it up to Non-EU countries at an early date. We also support any diplomatic effort conducive to safeguarding the JCPOA, including the Credit Line Mechanism proposed by France. The priority in this regard should be to push the US to lift or at least ease sanctions against Iran. Otherwise, no mechanism could get off the ground.
Third, disputes should be resolved through dialogue and consultation. Instead of finger-pointing, all parties should seek to resolve issues related to JCPOA implementation within the framework of the Joint Commission, and refrain from resorting to the Dispute Settlement Mechanism, much less the Security Council. Otherwise, we may risk a spiral escalation. Regarding the concerns on “the sunset clause” of the JCPOA and regional security issues , a new platform could be set up to seek long-term solutions through dialogue on equal footing and on the basis of maintaining the integrity of the JCPOA.
Fourth, peace in the region should be the overriding objective of all related efforts. The situation in the Gulf region and the Iranian nuclear issue are intertwined with each other, casting a long shadow on the global energy supply and international security and stability. China calls upon the countries in the Gulf region to refrain from hostile rhetorics and actions, and engage in dialogue on regional security issues. Meanwhile, we call upon countries outside the region to promote peace and stability, rather than inciting hostility and confrontation in that region.
As a party to and strong supporter of the JCPOA, China has taken a firm position in safeguarding its normal trade with Iran, despite the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US. The modernization of the Arak heavy-water reactor is a core project of the JCPOA. China, as one of the co-chairs of this project, together with the UK, has spared no effort in advancing the modernization process. China is also actively carrying out its commitments related to reactor design, fabrication of initial core load of fuel, and equipment supply, and remarkable progress has already been achieved in this regard. China will continue to push forward the project in accordance with the JCPOA and the consensus reached among the parties. Meanwhile, we hope that all parties concerned could play a more active role in this process and provide more concrete support to the project.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the Iranian nuclear issue cannot be resolved overnight. We need wisdom and patience, but we are confident that political and diplomatic solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue can be found, as long as all parties stay in unity and stick to preserving and implementing the JCPOA.
Thank you very much.