E3 forced to back down

December 26, 2020 - 23:58

TEHRAN – The nuclear law passed by the Iranian Parliament has forced the West to change course on Iran in the nuclear issue, Abolfazl Amouei, the spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, says.

Amouei said he believes that there are signs that the Western parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – have put aside their preconditions and claims.

“We are currently witnessing signs of a change in the behavior of the Europeans but they are still far from our demands. Therefore, the Parliament will seriously pursue the implementation of the strategic law on lifting sanctions,” Amouei told Iran’s Parliament news agency ICANA.

The senior lawmaker was referring to a recent law passed by the Parliament that, if implemented, would substantially increase Iran’s nuclear activities. The nuclear law, officially called “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect Nation’s Rights,” introduces a step-by-step strategy for the Iranian government to increase nuclear activities in few months if the other side failed to implement certain commitments. The law is part of a broader strategy that aims to lift the United States sanctions on Iran and was put forward by the lawmakers in early November. It aims to force the United States into lifting sanctions on Iran by doubling down on nuclear activities.

The law obliges the government to considerably speed up nuclear activities such as increasing uranium enrichment level to 20% and employing more advanced centrifuges. It also requires the government to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) a few months after the ratification of it if the parties to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers failed to uphold their obligations under the JCPOA.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has said this law will enhance Iran’s nuclear program while enabling the country to overcome the U.S. sanctions.

“This plan will strengthen the industry and the practical achievements of nuclear scientists and pave the way for Iran to overcome sanctions. This law, along with the reactions of other relevant agencies, in addition to reviving Iran's nuclear industry, creates deterrence against the enemy and security for the people,” the speaker said in November.

Amouei said the nuclear law has pushed the Europeans into changing their behavior and decisions, adding that the law was designed to achieve this goal.

“The Strategic Action law to Lift Sanctions was formulated with the approach of forcing Western countries into revising their foreign policy on Iran,” Amouei noted, adding, “This law obliges the Atomic Energy Organization [of Iran] to strengthen our country's nuclear program in line with peaceful goals, and also forces Western countries to take measures to reduce sanctions in order to gain access to Iran's nuclear facilities.”

He pointed out, “From the foreign reactions we received after the adoption of the strategic law on the elimination of sanctions in the Parliament, we understand that this law has had its effect in the international arena and has forced the Western parties to reconsider their policies.”

According to the spokesman of the parliamentary committee, Western countries have reconsidered issues such as extending the JCPOA’s sunset clauses and regional issues after the Parliament adopted the nuclear law.

“Strategic talks on the sunset clauses and regional talks with Iran are among the issues that Western countries have reconsidered following the passage of the Parliament’s law,” Amouei pointed out.

The lawmaker said during the recent JCPOA ministerial meeting it was obvious that Western sides have backed down on their preconditions.

“The latest round of talks between the foreign ministers of the P4 + 1 countries shows that the policy of the Parliament has forced them to give up their preconditions, and media reports such as the Guardian show that they have given up their preconditions and claims in the first place. Therefore, we believe that the implementation of this law will continue the path of achieving the goals of the Iranian nation more than before,” Amouei stated.

He was referring to last week’s JCPOA ministerial meeting during which the Europeans agreed to put aside their preconditions. In an effort to discuss the latest developments surrounding the Iran nuclear deal, the foreign ministers of Iran, China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, as well as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, held a virtual meeting on Monday during which they exchanged views on a range of issues related to the JCPOA such as preserving and fully implementing the deal, reiterating the need to continue the cooperation between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog, and more importantly the prospect of a U.S. return to the nuclear deal.

The meeting was tense and lasted two hours. However, all participants agreed to preserve the deal and not to set any preconditions for its revival.

Earlier in November, the European signatories to the JCPOA – France, Germany and the UK (E3)- had called for a new deal with Iran because they claimed, the existing one is no longer enough.

“A return to the previous agreement will not suffice anyway. There will have to be a kind of ‘nuclear agreement plus,’ which is also in our interest. We have clear expectations of Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic missile program that threatens the entire region. Iran also needs to play a different role in the region,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a recent interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel. He added, “We need this agreement precisely because we distrust Iran. I have already coordinated with my French and British counterparts on this.”

But the Europeans abandoned their push to expand the nuclear deal, at least for now. Following the ministerial meeting, the Guardian reported that the E3 foreign ministers have agreed not to set fresh preconditions on a revival of the Iran nuclear deal, believing Tehran and Washington should be able to come back into full compliance with the agreement without at this stage needing to accept to extend or strengthen it.

“In what may prove the most significant development, it is understood that the three European powers are content for any discussions on extending and strengthening the deal to wait,” the British newspaper said.

It also quoted one senior EU diplomat as saying that “everyone around the table agreed on the need to preserve the deal and to convince the U.S. that it is much better to go back to the deal the way it is and without preconditions and without saying yes we want to add something more.”

SM/PA

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