Third step: Iran officially informs EU of plan to expand nuclear R&D

September 6, 2019

TEHRAN – In a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that as a third step Iran stops implementing all commitments related to nuclear research and development (R&D) under the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the JCPOA.

“Today, the Iranian foreign minister sent a letter to Mogherini, announcing that the Islamic Republic of Iran stops all commitments in the area of research and development under the JCPOA because of consequences of the United States’ withdrawal from the deal and the three European countries’ failure to implement their commitments,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

“In this letter, it has been said that this action is in line with Iran’s rights under the JCPOA and within the paragraph 36 of it and is in response to violation of the JCPOA during the past 16 months.”

Mousavi added, “Technical details of Iran’s action will be announced to the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

According to Mousavi, the final part of the letter said, “In order to show its good will, the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to continue negotiations at all levels with the parties remaining in the JCPOA, and return to the full implementation of the JCPOA in case the other parties implement all their JCPOA commitments.”

Before announcing the third step, Iran increased its stockpile of enriched uranium beyond the 300 kilograms allowed under the JCPOA, and refined nuclear fuel to the purity level of 4.5 percent.

Iran took these steps one year after the Trump administration abandoned the JCPOA and imposed the harshest ever sanctions on Tehran.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran will take the third step in reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal.

“Despite settling main part of differences with the Europeans, we have not reached a final agreement yet. So, Iran will take the third step of reducing its nuclear commitments,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting.

The details of the third step will be announced by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization on Saturday.

Rouhani said that the third step like the two previous ones is reversible if any agreement is reached.

“While taking the third step, we will continue to hold talks and if we reach an agreement, we will be open to negotiate,” the president stated.

In a statement on May 8, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) announced that its “strategic patience” is over as the remaining members of the JCPOA, especially the Europeans, have failed to honor their obligations and protect Iran from sanctions effect.

Under the JCPOA backed the UN Security Council Resolution 22321, Iran was obliged to scale back nuclear activities in exchange for termination of economic and financial sanctions.

EU asks Iran to return to nuclear commitments

The European Union demanded Iran on Thursday to return to its commitments under the nuclear deal.

European Commission spokesman Carlos Ruiz de Gordejuela claimed in Brussels on Thursday that Iran’s decision was “inconsistent” with the agreement, AFP reported.

“And in this context we urge Iran to reverse these steps and refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal,” de Gordejuela said.

UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement on Thursday saying, “This third step away from its commitments under the nuclear deal is particularly disappointing at a time when we and our European and international partners are working hard to de-escalate tensions with Iran.”

In a separate statement, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said that Iran “should refrain from taking concrete actions that will not comply with its commitments and may harm efforts to de-escalate tension”.

Muhll said that they will discuss Iran’s recent announcement with partners and the IAEA.

The remaining signatories to the agreement – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – claim to be trying to keep the deal alive.

The European powers have not shown strong will to counter U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Iran has said that a French offer of a $15 billion credit line could bring it back to full compliance with the deal.

But a senior U.S. official on Wednesday ruled out any sanctions exemptions that would permit that credit in pre-purchase for Iran’s oil.

“We can’t make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers,” said Brian Hook, the State Department’s coordinator on Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded by tweeting that the U.S. Treasury was “nothing more than a jail warden”.

“Ask for reprieve, get thrown in solitary for the audacity,” Zarif tweeted. “Ask again and you might end up in the gallows.”


NA/SP/PA

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