In a recent statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has reiterated its commitment to the nuclear deal while Washington continues to sabotage the landmark agreement.

Tehran released a statement on the nuclear deal on November 21 that largely went unnoticed. Its ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Kazem Gharib Abadi, said that against all odds Iran is still willing to stay in the general framework of the agreement. 

“Iran has shown its goodwill by implementing all its commitments under the deal wholeheartedly, and as the world witnessed, the Agency (IAEA) has continuously reported the full compliance of Iran with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” said the Iranian statement, disclosed to TRT World. 

Since the US walked out of the deal, Iran has repeatedly said it was taking steps to exceed the limits of the nuclear deal by relaunching its nuclear programme through activating centrifuges and breaching enriched uranium stockpile limits. A New York Times report says that the statements “appeared to be intended more to give Iran negotiating leverage than to significantly further its development of a nuclear weapon”.

Previously, Tehran has stated that because Iran does not benefit from the deal package that the US violated by walking out of it, it is entitled to walk away from some of its commitments. 

“Iran is still acting within the framework of the deal and is ready to revert to its full implementation provided that its legitimate rights, as envisaged in the deal is guaranteed and met,” the statement assured. 

The 2015 nuclear deal was former US president Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, which created a mechanism called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to limit Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for easing economic sanctions against Tehran. 

The co-signatories of the JCPOA were the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany – the permanent members of the UN – as well as the EU. 

But after Washington, under the presidency of Donald Trump, unilaterally walked away from the deal last year and reimposed harsh sanctions regime on Iran, making the deal’s implementation unfeasible, Tehran is faced with a dilemma in which the country has to be bound to a deal where it doesn’t enjoy the original benefits promised. 

Tehran has been resilient in trying to keep the deal alive as its EU partners have attempted to step into the vacuum left by the US, but at the same time, it declared earlier this month that the country will gradually cease some of its commitments under the JCPOA, resuming uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow plant close to the capital. 

A handout picture released by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization on November 6, 2019, reportedly shows a truck carrying UF6 fuel leaving the Natanz nuclear power plant in the central Iranian province of Isfahan to the underground Fordo (Fordow) facility.
A handout picture released by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization on November 6, 2019, reportedly shows a truck carrying UF6 fuel leaving the Natanz nuclear power plant in the central Iranian province of Isfahan to the underground Fordo (Fordow) facility. (Reuters)

Under the deal, Tehran previously agreed to suspend the uranium enrichment programme at Fordow. But with changed conditions, it again resumed its enrichment programme there. 

“Iran has shown a ‘strategic patience’ for a year,” allowing the other signatories of the deal to develop a plan to make up the US withdrawal, the statement said. 

“But unfortunately, no practical result was achieved in that regard,” said the statement. So Tehran was forced to reverse its commitments under the deal.

What it means for Iran to stay in the framework of the deal

However, Tehran will not walk away from the deal immediately as Washington did last year, the statement said, emphasising Iran’s long-term approach to the issue.   

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s former top diplomat to the IAEA, who was instrumental in mediating talks between Iran, the US and other countries, thinks that Tehran is doing its best to keep the deal alive. 

“All IAEA inspections under JCPOA which are far beyond even Additional Protocol are continued and implementation of Additional Protocol which started with JCPOA is also continued,” Soltanieh told TRT World, when he was asked about what it means to be for Iran to stay in the general framework of the deal. 

“Many other commitments in fuel cycle such as uranium mining etc are continued. 

Arak Heavy Water reactor is following new design after the JCPOA with 3.67 percent enrichment and not old design before JCPOA,” Soltanieh added. 

Potential spoilers

The Iranian statement also touched upon other potential spoilers of the deal along with the US.

Israel, a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has otherwise developed its nuclear programme, is one of them. Tel Aviv has long complained about Iran’s nuclear programme and the JCPOA deal, arguing that it is developing nuclear weapons. 

The statement addressed Israeli rhetoric.

“It is regretful that this regime, who is developing different types of WMDs, is doing all it can to mislead the public and the international community from the real threat to the regional and international peace, security and stability, and turn Iran’s peaceful nuclear program as a fabricated and unreal threat,” the statement said.

It also reminded Israelis that they are “in no position to preach others on something they do not respect themselves”. 

Riyadh was another target of the Iranian statement, which criticised the agency’s exemptions for Saudi Arabia from the obligation of hosting IAEA safeguard inspections in the country while Tehran regularly hosts inspectors. 

The statement also found the Trump administration’s “transfer of nuclear know-how to the kingdom” as reprehensible as Riyadh shows “irresponsible behaviour” across the board.  

Source: TRT World