Iran's nuclear chief: U.S. JCPOA move undermining diplomacy

February 11, 2020 - 15:53

TEHRAN - The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday that the unilateral pullout of the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has dealt a blow to the agreement which proved the toughest international issues could be tackled diplomatically.

“It was a dominant belief that the JCPOA could set a model in this regard …. But, unfortunately, this euphoria didn’t last long. With the embedded irrationality in the U.S. administration’s mindset, such optimism is fading away so quickly,” Ali Akbar Salehi told the “International Conference on Nuclear Security” in Vienna, Austria, Press TV reported.

Salehi urged the European Union, as a main stakeholder of the deal, to play its role in keeping the JCPOA alive by living up to its commitments without paying heed to the Trump administration’s "unjust pressures."
"Unfortunately, the U.S. administration has not yet come to its senses in recognizing the reality on grounds and keeps on inflicting harm on our people as well as the people of the entire region while creating and supporting terrorist groups such as ISIS (Daesh)," Salehi added.

The JCPOA, better known as the Iran deal, was signed between Tehran and 5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - and Germany - in July 2015 and went into effect in January 2016. The UN Security Council also adopted resolution 2231 in July 2015 endorsing the international agreement.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the landmark deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the agreement in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions in history against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism. The move was intended to strangulate the Iranian economy, especially through a total ban on Iran’s oil exports.

Under Washington’s pressure, the three European signatories to the JCPOA have so far failed to protect Tehran’s business interests under the deal against the American bans.

In May 2019, exactly one year after the U.S. quit the deal and imposed sanction on Iran, Tehran began to gradually reduce its commitments under the JCPOA to both retaliate for Washington’s departure, and Europeans’ failure to honor their commitments.

On January 5, Iran took a fifth and last step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development. However, Iran has insisted if the Europeans honor their obligations it will immediately reverse its decisions.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that Europe must ensure Iran’s benefits from the nuclear deal if it wants the deal to survive.

“If we want the Iran nuclear deal to survive, we need to ensure that Iran benefits if it returns to full compliance,” he wrote in an article in the Project Syndicate published on Saturday.

Borrell visited Iran on Feb. 3. He held talks with Foreign Minister Zarif, President Rouhani and Parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

Elsewhere in his speech, Salehi said as a member state to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran maintains that in line with Article IV of the NPT, nothing “shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the parties to the treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination."

The AEOI chief emphasized that nuclear security and safety measures must be utilized to support such objectives and functions.

Late last month, a group of Iranian lawmakers submitted a motion to the parliament calling for Iran’s withdrawal from the NPT after the three European signatories to the JCPOA failed to meet their contractual commitments following the U.S. exit.

A member of the Parliament’s Presiding Board, Mahmoud Sadeqi, said that the motion had been prepared after the European trio triggered a dispute mechanism devised in the deal, which could lead to the restoration of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.

Salehi, a nuclear physicist, further said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to assist its members "upon their request and on a non-discriminatory basis, in their efforts to enhance a sustainable nuclear security regime based on their national needs and priorities."

Iran believes that “nuclear security activities of the Agency should be funded with no string attached by the donors,” he added.

"Iran has taken upon itself to enhance further the mechanisms of its nuclear security throughout the country, through its own resources and also by utilizing the agency (IAEA) and other member states’ potentials," the Iranian nuclear chief said.

He emphasized that the Islamic Republic is updating the regulations regarding the security of radioactive sources and the relevant guidance on control and combating illicit trafficking of radioactive and nuclear materials.

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