­ISLAMABAD - Pakistan supports China, Russia and Europe’s efforts to offer a new accord to Iran to salvage its 2015 nuclear deal, diplomatic sources said.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had assured China, Russia and the European countries that it will back their efforts for the nuclear deal.

One official said: “As a policy we are against the United States decision to walk out of the nuclear deal with Iran. We support any effort to save this agreement. The US disappointed many countries.”

He added: “Pakistan will never change its mind to support the US on the Iran nuclear deal.  We are firm in our decision (to back Iran).”

Reports said the Europe, China and Russia were discussing a new accord to offer Iran financial aid to curb its ballistic missile to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

Diplomats from these countries will meet in Vienna this week under the leadership of senior European Union diplomat Helga Schmid to discuss next steps after the May 8 decision by US President Donald Trump to pull out of a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, reports said. Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China would participate in the meeting. The US will stay away from the meeting.

On May 8, President Trump had walked out of the agreement calling Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action a ‘horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.’ Trump said that he would work to find a ‘real comprehensive and lasting’ deal to tackle not only the Iranian nuclear programme but its ballistic missile tests and activities across the Middle East. The US president warned that his country would re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

The sanctions would target industries mentioned in the deal, including Iran’s oil sector, aircraft manufacturers exporting to Iran and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes. This is expected to hit major European and US companies. Some exemptions are due to be negotiated.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the European companies doing business in Iran will stop their activities within six months or they will have to face US sanctions.

The deal was agreed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia - plus Germany. It was struck by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. The other member countries have not yet seconded Trump’s decision.  After Trump’s decision, Iran said it would try to salvage the agreement but would restart uranium enrichment if it failed.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohamed Faisal said Pakistan believed that the JCPOA represented a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy.

“We had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hope that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance,” he said.

Pakistan stand on the Iran nuclear deal comes when it is also challenging the US decision to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Israel.

This month, White House officials opened the US embassy in Jerusalem, handing Israel a long-sought victory but touching off fresh clashes from outraged Palestinians. The ceremony was attended by President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The move capped Trump’s pledge to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to offer recognition to Israel’s claim of Jerusalem as its capital.

Trump’s European allies did not welcome the move saying this could deal a serious blow to peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. Clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem as the embassy was opened. Dozens of the protesting Palestinians have been killed so far by the occupant Israeli forces.

Pakistan regretted that despite calls by the international community to comply with UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the two-state solution the US shifted its embassy to Jerusalem.

The foreign ministry said: “This represents a violation of international law and several United Nations Security Council resolutions, in particular resolutions 476 and 478. It may be recalled that both houses of our parliament have earlier voiced their position on the US decision. The government and people of Pakistan stand firmly with the Palestinian people.”

 

 

SHAFQAT ALI