Senior analyst says U.S. ‘needs to do some serious steps to revive the trust’ with Iran

April 10, 2021 - 19:26

TEHRAN - “The U.S. needs to do some serious steps to revive the trust” with Iran, says a senior nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University.

Hossein Mousavian, a Princeton University researcher, says the U.S. has “killed the trust” with Iranian by quitting the 2015 nuclear deal – JCPOA- and now Iranians feels deceived.

The analyst makes the remarks with the Democracy Now as the United States and Iran are holding more indirect talks as part of a push to revive the JCPOA. 

The two countries have agreed to set up two expert-level working groups along with other signatories of the 2015 deal.

The U.S. abrogated the nuclear deal as former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and imposed the harshest ever sanctions on Iran under his “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic. 

The United States has imposed some 1,600 different sanctions on Iran in a move that has also made it harder for Iranians to even import food and medicine, a situation that became even more dire during the pandemic. 

The main hurdle to reviving the nuclear deal is doubt over the U.S. commitment to diplomacy, says Mousavian. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price described the talks with the JCPOA Joint Commission as “start of a process” and claimed the Biden administration is prepared to lift sanctions on Iran.

“When it comes to sanctions, the point I made before remains. We are prepared to take the steps necessary to return to compliance with the JCPOA, including by lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA,” Price said.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi who leads the Iranian team in Vienna told Press TV the lifting of the sanctions must happen before the nuclear deal is revived.

“If the U.S. is serious, they should be prepared to lift all sanctions that they have imposed or reimposed against Iran. And after verification, we’ll certainly go back to full compliance. If we wanted to avoid full compliance to the JCPOA, we would have done it before. We would have totally withdrawn from the JCPOA once the U.S. administration — the previous U.S. administration left the JCPOA. So, we are quite serious. Nobody can question Iran’s goodwill. The JCPOA is alive because of Iran, and we have paid a heavy price for that,” Araqchi explained.

Though Iran formally remains in the JCPOA, it has taken some remedial measures in accordance to paragraph 36 of the JCPOA which has “provided a mechanism to resolve disputes and allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance.”

However, Iran has said if the U.S. lifts the illegal sanctions fully and in a verifiable manner Iran would be ready to undo its nuclear measures.

In a Twitter message on Friday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is proposing a “logical path” to bring the nuclear deal fully to life.

Zarif said the United States created the current crisis and therefore it “should return to full compliance first.”

Zarif, who was Iran’s chief negotiator in crafting the 2015 nuclear deal, said a full compliance by the U.S. which is rapidly verified will be reciprocated by Iran.

 “Iranians feel deceived”

The nuclear policy analyst tells Democracy Now that Iranians are angry and feel betrayed by the United States.

The Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency was regularly reporting that Iran was in full compliance with the terms of the JCPOA 

“Iranians, frankly speaking, they think they have been deceived by the U.S. They have accepted the most comprehensive commitments during the history of nonproliferation. They have implied — they have complied perfectly. In reward, they have received the most comprehensive sanctions ever, after the revolution. Therefore, they are coming back to nuclear negotiations with complete mistrust,” the senior analyst and former diplomat regrets.

He adds, “Actually, the problem with the current negotiation is that since the U.S. broke the promise, practically the U.S. killed the trust on the Iranian side, because after 12 years of negotiation, Iran and the U.S., Iran and the world powers, they agreed in 2015 on a deal, which is the most comprehensive agreement during the history of nonproliferation. It was working very well, and Iran delivered completely every promise within the deal. Iran was in full compliance, with zero failure. And the U.S. withdrew, imposed — not only reimposed the nuclear sanctions, but the U.S. imposed the most comprehensive sanctions ever, after the revolution.” 

“Iran is a member of JCPOA; the U.S. is not.”

He also says if Washington is serious to revive the JCPOA it must lift sanctions first because it was the U.S. that created this crisis by abrogating the agreement.

“If the U.S. wants to revive the nuclear deal, since the U.S. killed the deal, they have to lift the sanctions first. Iran would be ready to come to full compliance. Here, there is a big difference: Iran is a member of JCPOA; the U.S. is not. Iran is at least implementing 50% of the JCPOA; the U.S. is at zero implementation. And the U.S. is really the country who killed the deal. That’s why the U.S. needs to do some serious steps to revive the trust and to fill the gap already has been created by President Trump.”

“U.S. needs to start from 0% to 100% compliance”

On what “compliance for compliance” means, the nuclear policy analyst says, “Compliance for compliance means that, first of all, the U.S., during President Obama, was really serious to implement the deal. But even during President Obama, the United States was not in position for full compliance because of primary and secondary sanctions before the nuclear deal. However, Iran remained committed and implemented 100%, while, during President Obama, the U.S. was implementing 30% because of the primary and secondary sanctions.

“Now, President Trump withdrew and imposed not only nuclear sanctions, hundreds of other sanctions, far, far, far beyond nuclear. Therefore, now Iranians say, ‘Look, we showed our full commitment for full compliance for three years nonstop with zero failure. It was you that even you were not able to comply with your commitments during President Obama because of the primary sanctions. Now we have an ocean of new sanctions by President Trump. Therefore, we need to see you would really lift the sanctions.’

“Compliance from the U.S. side is lifting the sanctions. And compliance from the Iranian side is to continue to accept the measures within the JCPOA, which is the most intrusive inspections among all NPT members and the most limits on Iranian nuclear program, like cap on 20% or 90% or 60% enrichment, cap to below 5%, cap to a stockpile, and a lot of other commitments. Therefore, Iranians need to go back to full compliance. It means, currently, they are complying with 50%; they need to go back from 50 to 100. And the U.S. needs to start from 0 to 100. This is compliance for compliance.”

Also, when asked what the primary sanctions are, he said, “Before the nuclear deal, the previous U.S. administrations imposed sanctions, like sanctioning Iranian oil, sanctioning investment on Iranian oil industry, many other sanctions under the umbrella of terrorism or human rights, and so and so. That’s why those sanctions practically blocked any economic relation between the U.S. and Iran. Iran was ready to continue economic relations, trade relations with the U.S. But it was the U.S., because of the sanctions, that practically blocked any trade with Iran. However, there are some sanctions even before the nuclear deal that the U.S. had decided for exterritorial imposing sanctions. It means if the other countries are going to make business with Iran, the U.S. would not make business with them. That’s why these are the problems before the nuclear deal. When they came to nuclear deal, based on JCPOA, there is a clear statement in JCPOA saying the signatories, the P5+1, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, they would not do anything to impede normal trade business between other countries and Iran.”

He added, “Therefore, the primary sanctions practically blocked the normal trade business between the other countries and Iran. That’s why we are saying the primary sanctions are a problem. The nuclear sanctions are a problem. Strong sanctions are a problem. That’s why I believe the current U.S. nuclear team now in Vienna, headed by Robert Malley, they have a really, really difficult — they are in a very difficult situation, because they have a lot of sanctions which, based on JCPOA, they have to lift it in order to make normal trade business between Iran and the other countries possible.”

“Sanctions during pandemic is disaster” 

The senior analyst called sanctions on Iran during the Covid-19 pandemic a “disaster”, saying thousands of people have lost their lives because of the shortage of medicine and medical assistance.”

He adds there is a “huge shortage” of medical equipment in the hospitals and foreign companies “cannot export medicine to Iran because of the U.S. financial sanctions.”

The former nuclear negotiator says it is because of this reason that “now Iran has the most difficult situation with corona.”

“Iranians says Biden is following Trump’s strategy”

Nearly three months have passed since Joe Biden has taken the power in the White House. Yet his administration has not taken any concrete steps to even loosen sanctions Iran, a policy that have created this feeling among the Iranians that Trump is following Trump’s footsteps.

“This is really a humanitarian disaster created by President Trump. Unfortunately, frankly speaking, up to now, President Biden has not been able to remove any humanitarian sanctions, even for Iran to import the vaccines. Therefore, Iranians now, they say President Biden practically is following President Trump’s strategy,” the analyst remarks.

According to a recent poll, a majority of people in both the U.S. and Iran have expressed support for the nuclear deal. However, there are certain Iran hawks in the U.S. and a few countries in the West Asia, top among them Israel, are seriously opposed to a revitalization of the JCPOA. 

“Majority Iranians, they support; majority Americans, they support; majority international community, they support. There are only two, three countries which they oppose. First of all, in the U.S., we have hawks. You know them. I don’t need to introduce to you. However, Israel is the enemy number one of the nuclear deal,” Mousavian points out.

He says it is a “joke” that Israel which has nuclear bombs opposes Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. 

“The reason is very simple. The reason is that Israel has tens of nuclear bombs, and they want to prevent any other country, even for peaceful nuclear technology…. Israel is not member of the Nonproliferation Treaty. Israel does not let any inspection for to the IAEA to inspect its nuclear facility, while Iran is a member of the NPT, Iran does not have a nuclear bomb, and Iran is the most inspected country among all the member states of the Nonproliferation Treaty. Still, Israelis are blaming Iran. This is really a joke for international relations for nonproliferation. A country with nuclear bombs is blaming a country which does not have nuclear bomb, is committed to NPT, has accepted the most comprehensive transparency measures and is the most inspected country in the world on the nuclear issue.” 

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