Two peas in a pod

February 15, 2021 - 22:13

TEHRAN – While Iran is moving toward halting the implementation of the Additional Protocol, the United States still clings to the failed policy of treading in the footsteps of the Trump administration.

Donald Trump has gone, but his legacy of pursuing failed policies toward Iran continues to exist, though the Biden administration has sought to distance itself from its predecessor.

The Biden administration reversed some of Trump’s destructive policies in its early days. Biden revoked Trump’s travel ban on a number of Muslim countries and rejoined pacts such as the Paris climate accord that Trump quit. But he refused to move away from his predecessor’s pressure campaign against Iran.

Biden himself largely avoided publicly discussing his Iran policy. He briefly touched on Iran in his recent interview with CBS in which he said that he would not lift sanctions in order to encourage Iran to start new talks with the United States. Asked whether he would halt sanctions to convince Iran to return to the negotiating table, Biden simply said “No.”

The journalist then asked if the Iranians would first have to stop enriching uranium, which drew an affirmative nod from Biden.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to Biden’s remarks on Wednesday. “I feel that the Americans have not yet decided on their policies. That’s why the White House had to correct Mr. Biden’s remarks many times,” Zarif said.

Despite Biden following in the footsteps of Trump in terms of clinging to sanctions, U.S. officials work hard to maintain a façade of diplomacy when it comes to dealing with Iran.

“Pleased to see Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley off to a great start at the State Department. Principled diplomacy is the best path to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet on Sunday.

This tweet was shrugged off by Iran. Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, refused to comment on the tweet and said that “It’s up to them [U.S.] to interpret the U.S. secretary of state’s tweet.”

Responding to a question on Blinken’s tweet, Khatibzadeh said, “Unfortunately, the United States is still going down the same wrong path of the previous administration. There is no difference between what happens today and what was before January 20. The same maximum pressure and crime, committed through the cruel sanctions against the Iranian people and disregarding international law, continues today.”

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, the spokesman noted that there is no difference between the administrations of Trump and Biden and “this should actually bring a stain of disgrace to those who based their election campaign on distancing themselves from the bullying policies of the Trump administration.”

Khatibzadeh was referring to Joe Biden who promised during his election campaign to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if was elected president.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” Biden wrote in a September op-ed for CNN.

But Biden quietly reneged on his campaign promise after he won the U.S. presidential election by saying that rejoining the nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – would be hard and difficult because the nuclear deal is not enough and thus it should be expanded.

In addition to Khatibzadeh, Iran’s chief diplomat also lamented that the U.S. was still continuing Trump’s policies.

“Biden administration officials keep talking about Iran’s compliance with JCPOA. In what capacity? U.S. ceased participation in May 2018, violated JCPOA & punished those complying with UN resolution. As of today, U.S. remains in EXACTLY same position. Before spouting off, COMPLY,” Zarif said in a tweet last week.

Facing a continued U.S. non-compliance with the JCPOA, Zarif called on Japan and the European Union to persuade the U.S. to lift its sanctions on Iran.

In an interview with Kyodo News, the chief Iranian diplomat said he hopes Japan and the European Union will persuade newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden to lift economic sanctions imposed on Tehran by his predecessor Donald Trump.

But if the U.S. continues to procrastinate, Iran will take new steps to further suspend nuclear commitments, according to Ali Akbar Alizadeh, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Alizadeh told the Tehran Times that Iran would stop implementing the Additional Protocol within a week if the U.S. refused to lift sanctions.

On February 21 the Iranian government will be obligated to implement a nuclear law that was passed mainly to compel the West to realize that Iran will resume the full implementation of the JCPOA only after the remaining parties to the JCPOA as well as the U.S. start keeping their end of the bargain.

The nuclear law, officially called “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect the Nation’s Rights,” outlines a step-by-step strategy for Iran to force the West into changing its policies toward Iran.

Iranian officials have made it clear that if the U.S. refrained from lifting sanctions by February 21, Iran will implement that law.

Asked whether the Americans or Europeans have done anything to convince Iran not to implement the nuclear law, Alizadeh said the West is not taking the initiative to address Iran’s concerns.
 
“We hope that they would come to their senses and lift the sanctions but, unfortunately, there is no sign that they are going to do so,” the lawmaker told the Tehran Times.

Alizadeh said Iran will stop “intrusive inspections” that are being done in accordance with the Additional Protocol, whose implementation will come to an end on February 21.

Khatibzadeh also echoed the same position on Monday. He said Iran will end its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement if the other parties to the JCPOA fail to honor their commitments by the deadline of February 21.

“This measure means an end to inspections beyond the Safeguards Agreement, but does not mean an end to all inspections. In fact, Iran is a member of the Safeguards Agreement and the NPT, but the implementation of the Additional Protocol will be halted,” the spokesman pointed out.

Alizadeh said the cessation of implementation of the Additional Protocol will include unplugging the cameras that were placed in Iran’s nuclear facilities according to the Additional Protocol.

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