By Javad Heirannia

Iran won’t accept restrictions on uranium enrichment permanent: Nephew

January 15, 2018

TEHRAN – Richard Nephew, who served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, is of the opinion that I do not believe the EU will accept to make restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment permanent.

He adds that “I certainly do not think that Iran will accept it, as presented.”

Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says “I do think that there was an opportunity to negotiate a follow on agreement to the JCPOA, perhaps including regional nuclear and arms control topics.  I fear that this opportunity is slipping away because of unreasonable and unrealistic demands being made by Mr. Trump.”

Following is the text of the interview with Nephew:

Q: U.S. President Donald Trump approved the Iran nuclear deal only one more time before abandoning it if it is not changed. What are the changes that Trump emphasize on them?

A: Mr. Trump has said very clearly that he would like to have an agreement in which Iran renounces an expansion of its nuclear program beyond present JCPOA levels and accepts extensive, intrusive international inspections.  He has also said that he requires additional European and other foreign country support for U.S. efforts to address concerns with Iran's broader regional and domestic behavior.

Q: The White House wants a deal with EU signatories to make restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment permanent. Under the current deal they are set to expire in 2025. Do you think EU will accept this condition? If so, Will Iran accept it?

No, I do not believe the EU will accept this.  And, I certainly do not think that Iran will accept it, as presented.

I do think that there was an opportunity to negotiate a follow on agreement to the JCPOA, perhaps including regional nuclear and arms control topics.  I fear that this opportunity is slipping away because of unreasonable and unrealistic demands being made by Mr. Trump.

Q: Mr Trump also wants Iran's ballistic missile programme to be addressed. Iran frequently has emphasized that ballistic missile is not related to JCPOA and will not negotiated about it. According to this, do you think that this condition meaning the end for JCPOA?

Well, I do think Mr. Trump intends for that to be the case.  I do agree with Mr. Trump that Iran's missile program is destabilizing and that it would be better for the region and better for Iran to work out an arms control arrangement.  I recognize, though, that Iran would need to get something too and that this would require concessions on the part of other countries.

I fear that the approach being taken by the president, though, will ensure that no other country in the region will be willing to make a concession and that Iran will refuse to even consider the missile issue in a broader, regional context in the future.  I think this is all unfortunate and runs the risk of contributing to a dangerous escalation of tensions in the region.

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