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G7 Leaders in Cornwall Welcome Talks to Revive the JCPOA

Duja Muhanna, G7 Research Group
June 14, 2021

At the end of the G7 summit in Cornwall on June 11–13, the leaders of the world's advanced democracies released a communiqué that included one paragraph on the Iranian nuclear deal in a section on Global Responsibility and International Action. G7 leaders welcomed the recent talks on revitalizing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reaffirmed their commitment to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

The Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was negotiated by the P5+1 (United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, plus Germany), the European Union and Iran, and was adopted on July 14, 2015. It was endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted on July 20, 2015. The JCPOA lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear activities. Under the JCPOA, the International Atomic Energy Association, the global nuclear watchdog, continuously monitors Iran's nuclear sites and verifies that Iran does not secretly develop a nuclear weapon.

At their meeting on May 5, 2021, G7 foreign and development ministers issued a communiqué that reaffirmed that the JCPOA remained the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. Since its adoption, the G7 leaders also reiterated their support for the JCPOA at the 2015 Elmau Summit, the 2016 Ise-Shima Summit, the 2018 Charlevoix Summit and the 2019 Biarritz Summit.

In 2018 U.S. president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement and reinstated a maximum pressure campaign of economic sanctions against Iran. In return, Iran began to gradually downgrade its compliance under the agreement by increasing its enriched uranium output and stockpiles.

Talks in Vienna involving the remaining JCPOA signatories – China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the United Kingdom – and, indirectly, a U.S. delegation from the Biden administration have been taking place since early April 2021 with the aim of reviving the landmark accord. The G7 Cornwall communiqué stressed support for the Vienna talks and the "goal of restoring the nonproliferation benefits of the JCPoA and of ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme."

On June 8, 2021, just before G7 leaders gathered in Cornwall, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken said the U.S. would maintain hundreds of sanctions on Iran, including the Trump era sanctions even if a deal is reached between the two parties. Iran's leaders have said they are ready to return to their full commitments under the agreement when Washington lifts all sanctions. "America was first in breaking with the agreement and it should be the first to return to it," Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said.

While all parties involved in the Vienna meetings are committed to relaunch the 2015 nuclear deal, they have been locked in dispute over which sanctions the U.S. would be required to lift and how Iran's nuclear program can be reset on 2015 limits.

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Duja Muhanna is a research analyst with the G7 and G20 Research Groups. She joined the G7 Research Group in 2013 and has served as a compliance analyst and lead analyst. She was a member of the field team at the G7 summit in Charlevoix in Canada in 2018. She also worked as a knowledge management advisor for the 2020 G20 Saudi Presidency. Duja graduated from the University of Toronto with an honours bachelor of arts in political science and history with a focus in international relations.

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