U.S. must take the first step to revive JCPOA, says advisor to parliament speaker

April 25, 2021 - 20:54

TEHRAN — In an interview with the khamenei.ir published on Sunday, Mehdi Mohammadi, the strategic advisor to the speaker of the Iranian parliament, talked about three main points in the Vienna nuclear deal talks: verification of sanctions removal, simultaneous return of the parties to the nuclear deal obligations, and Iran’s terms and conditions in the negotiations.

Mohammadi said that Iran, as the Leader said, has set conditions for the return of the U.S. to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the U.S. rejoining the P5+1 group. 

According to the political expert, the first issue for Iran is that any U.S. return to the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions must be as such to ensure Iran's lasting, tangible and real economic benefit from the JCPOA.

“The first condition is that the lifting of sanctions must be done in such a way that Iran's intended economic benefit from the JCPOA is achieved. We did not benefit economically from the nuclear deal, but the other side achieved the full benefits that it expected from the JCPOA, which was to limit Iran's nuclear program to the dimensions seen in the deal,” he explained. 

Pointing to illegal sanctions, he said, “The Americans exited the deal, and after they exited, they did a lot of damage to us. One estimate is that we have lost about $200 billion since May 2018.”

He emphasized that “Iran does not accept any kind of segregation of sanctions.” 

He elaborated on Iran’s first condition, saying, “Iran's condition is that we do not enter into such division of sanctions titles. All sanctions that have prevented Iran from benefiting economically from the JCPOA must be lifted. Now, whether they belong to the Trump era or the Obama era, or with what tags and titles and under what law; whether it is the executive order of the president or the law of Congress it is up to them. These have nothing to do with us.”

Pointing to the framework drawn by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution for the negotiating team, he noted that the return of Iran to its full JCPOA commitments has three steps. “First, the Americans must lift all sanctions so that the economic effects of the lifting of sanctions on Iran become apparent and Iran can verify those economic effects. When that happens, Iran will be ready to return to its nuclear commitments according to the terms of the JCPOA.”

‘All sanctions must be lifted before Iran can return to its commitments’

He said Iran’s second condition is that all sanctions must be lifted “before Iran can fulfill its JCPOA obligations.”

In response to the U.S. exit from the JCPOA in May 2018, on year later Iran took gradual remedial measures in accordance to paragraph 36 of the agreement.

‘Sanctions must be removed practically’

Pointing to Iran’s third condition, he said that Iran's next condition is that the sanctions must be lifted practically and not just on paper, emphasizing that this condition is of utmost importance for Iran.  

“It does not benefit us to give us a piece of paper and call it the executive order of the president of the United States and say that according to this executive order, the sanctions imposed on Iran have been lifted or eased. In practice, we tangibly limit our nuclear program, but in return we are given only a piece of paper.”

‘Iran should verify U.S. actions’

Mohammadi said Iran's fourth condition is that just as they verify the Islamic Republic’s commitments, Iran should verify their commitments as well.

“There is an international body that verifies Iran's nuclear commitments (IAEA), but neither in the JCPOA nor in international law, there is not a mechanism for verifying the commitments of a party that wants to lift sanctions, for example. How is this going to be verified? The condition that Iran has set is that it is important that we verify the lifting of sanctions, that we test the economic benefits of Iran, not the verification of the lifting of sanctions itself.”

‘Iran will not negotiate directly with the U.S.’

The expert said the last condition is that Iran will not negotiate directly with the United States.

Responding to a question about the negotiations with the U.S. and whether this is one of Iran’s terms, Mohammadi responded by saying that this is one of Iran’s most important conditions. 

“This is one of our conditions, and the other side is very insistent that you sit down and talk directly with the Americans. The Americans are insisting as well.”

The advisor to the parliament speaker remarked that there is a reason for this persistence and it is the fact that the United States wants to revive the negotiations, not the JCPOA.  

“What is vital for the United States is to bring Iran to the negotiation table.”

‘Iran needs more credible guarantees’

On verification procedure, Mohammadi said the process within the nuclear deal itself is that the members mutually verify each other's commitments. 

“If a member of the JCPOA finds that another member is not fulfilling its obligations, the said country is allowed to reduce its obligations under paragraph 36, but the JCPOA experience has shown us that this mechanism does not work.” 

He said Iran wants more credible guarantees. 

Regarding the time needed to verify the sanctions removal, the advisor said, “The most important thing is that there is a good time interval between fulfillments of obligations of both parties.”

He added, “First, they must fulfill their obligations. Then there must be a reasonable time for us to make sure that the lifting of sanctions really produces an economic ‘effect’ and ‘benefit’.”

Mohammadi believes that the minimum possible time to verify the economic impact of lifting sanctions is between three and six months. 

“It will take at least three to six months for us to make sure that the lifting of sanctions really works and that Iran's foreign trade is in place.”

He explained that this is the only valid verification mechanism. Only if Iran can make sure that the foreign trade is stable, then the Islamic Republic will meet its nuclear commitments again, he added.

‘Iran does not accept simultaneous return to JCPOA commitments’

On reports of simultaneous return to the JCPOA obligations, Mohammadi said in the conditions set by Iran, Tehran does not accept the model of synchronization at all. 

“Simultaneity means that Iran would fulfill its commitments and then wait for them to lift the sanctions. And they have said they would not lift the sanctions, why? Because they want to use sanctions (as a leverage). That is, they want to use the sanctions for other purposes.”

He touched on a very important issue, saying, “The Americans say we want to return to the conditions of January 2017; That is, under the circumstances that the Obama administration had just ended and Trump had come to power.
But the question remains: Will the strategic and economic situation of Iran simply go back to January 2017?”

Explaining the logic behind Iran’s request for a reasonable time interval, Mohammadi stated that preliminary estimates show that the Islamic Republic has lost about $200 billion in the economic field alone. 

“So we need time, because we need to make sure that they live up to their commitments, that we can verify its economic effects, and that we can slowly rebuild the infrastructure that has been destroyed in the meantime. Something called a quick return to the JCPOA is against Iran's interests.”



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