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Feb 18, 2021
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Iranian “peaceful atom” will become inaccessible

Photo: uranium enrichment plant

Photo: uranium enrichment plant (Photo: AP / TASS)

All parties to the Iranian nuclear deal must return to their obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and fulfill these conditions by February 21. Otherwise, Tehran will block access for inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iranian nuclear facilities, Iranian Foreign Ministry official said. Said Khatibzade

According to the diplomat, “this process does not take time and can be implemented on the same day.” At the same time, Khatibzade noted that Tehran will continue to cooperate with the IAEA and will notify the agency of its actions in writing. He also stressed that Iran’s position has not changed: its “nuclear program is peaceful” and “will remain so.”

In fact, the representative of the Iranian Foreign Ministry only once again notified the international participants in the deal that the law passed by the Iranian parliament in December last year, obliging the country’s government to increase the degree of uranium enrichment, will be implemented as scheduled. Then, we will remind, the parliament gave the Cabinet two months to refuse to implement the additional protocol with the IAEA to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, if the other parties do not return to full implementation of their obligations under the 2015 agreement.

This deadline expires on February 21.

In July 2015, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, China, Russia, France and Iran signed a Comprehensive Joint Action Plan, which called for the lifting of all international economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limiting its nuclear program. Tehran, in particular, pledged not to enrich uranium by more than 3.67% within 15 years and to maintain reserves of enriched uranium at no more than 300 kg. In addition, in accordance with the agreement, IAEA experts received access to all Iranian nuclear facilities for 25 years.

However, in May 2018 the eccentric Donald Trump withdrew the United States unilaterally from all agreements. At the same time, not only restored, but also expanded the sanctions regime against Iran, which dealt a serious blow to the economy of the Islamic Republic.

A year later, Tehran announced a phased reduction in its commitments under the nuclear deal, primarily related to the enrichment of uranium and the termination of its sales.

There were hopes that after the change of administration in the White House, Washington would return to the deal, which the President Obama considered almost his main achievement. Advisor Biden on national security Jake Sullivan even called Iran’s nuclear program one of the top priorities in the work of the government.

But, apparently, nothing has changed in the behavior of the United States – Washington is again setting a condition.

As a White House spokeswoman said recently Jen PsakiTehran must prove that it is fully following the plan of action before the US makes any concessions.

Tehran, in turn, replied to this that negotiations with Washington are not included in Iran’s plans, and any progress in this direction is possible only if US sanctions are lifted and the US stops interfering in the republic’s economic cooperation with other countries.

That is, the situation, in fact, has reached an impasse, and it is not clear where there is a way out. And, is he, in principle?

SP asked for comments to the head of the St. Petersburg Center for the Study of the Contemporary Middle East Gomer Isaev:

– In fact, despite the sometimes rather harsh statements from Iranian and American officials, it is premature to say that the talks have no prospects. On the contrary, I believe that the more loud statements, the more chances that sooner or later the parties will agree.

Because both Iran and the United States are now interested in stabilizing the situation. And return to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iran suffers enough from the sanctions, which certainly limit it in many ways. And Biden, it seems to me, has an interest in this regard, which he has repeatedly shown. In any case, he stated this during the preparation for the elections. Again, many members of his administration, as we know, worked under Obama, who was involved in the treaty process with Iran.

But, of course, this is not a quick process – some new mechanism will probably be worked out. And while the Americans say that they need time.

“SP”: – Why?

– As you know, Trump had a lot of initiatives that Biden should cancel. And we know how many Trump decrees he now cancels every day, how many issues he revises. I think it will come to a deal with Iran too.

But until this happens, the Iranian side has a reason not to reduce the degree. Moreover, all these harsh statements that “we will stop letting the IAEA specialists” or “we will now go out from everywhere” are also part of diplomacy.

Yes, despite the fact that both sides clearly showed that they are interested in negotiations, and that this is a mutually beneficial process, no one, nevertheless, will immediately rush into each other’s arms.

Let’s see, again, how other states participating in this process – European countries, China and Russia – can participate here.

Therefore, it seems to me premature to say that the negotiations are at an impasse.

On the other hand, there are things that are not conducive to agreements. I’m talking about a very recent incident in which missiles fired at an American base in Iraq. Of course, now it is difficult to blame anyone really, but by indirect indications one can judge that the responsibility will be laid on the pro-Iranian forces.

For Biden, who is about to negotiate with Iran, this is a very unpleasant story. An American facility has been fired upon, there are dead and wounded.

Certain forces are not interested in normalization of American-Iranian relations. Including inside Iran – I am absolutely sure of this. There are so-called “hawks”, supporters of tough decisions. There are supporters of softer schemes. And this is a long history.

“SP”: – How then should one interpret the words of the Minister of Intelligence of Iran Mahmoud Alavi that Tehran will acquire nuclear weapons if it is driven into a corner? Can this position be considered official?

“When Iran, on the one hand, declares that it does not seek to obtain nuclear weapons, and on the other,“ if it’s really bad, then maybe we will get it, ”this, in my opinion, is a matter of speculation.

Now deceased Ariel Sharon (Israeli Prime Minister – ed.) Back in the early 2000s, he assured that in a year Iran would have nuclear weapons. Twenty years have passed – nothing happened.

In fact, it is a very difficult question to what extent Iran really has the ability to enrich uranium in order to obtain a prototype of the first atomic bomb. It is clear that the West is worried because missile technologies and delivery vehicles are developing in parallel.

But let’s proceed from the assumption that the presence of nuclear weapons in a state does not imply that it will bomb everyone at once.

I am, of course, by no means an advocate for the Iranian nuclear bomb. But this process is important for Iran in the context, again, of understanding its own security in the future. The West also understands this, so it is trying to somehow limit this issue.

But can it be limited by conducting, say, regular inspections or signing peace agreements? Supporters of confrontation with Tehran believe that any peace accords give Iran more opportunities to move forward in this process. Slowly but surely. Opponents, on the contrary, say that Iran, cornered, will even more persistently try to make a bomb.

Therefore, the question is complex and easy not to answer.

SP: – In early January, the Iranian authorities announced that the uranium enrichment level at the nuclear facility in Fordow had reached 20%, and this caused serious concern among the countries that signed the JCPOA. Why, in general, was it necessary to report this?

– It is always difficult to find the truth here, because we are talking about diplomacy. Including about attempts to put pressure on the opposite side with information stuffing.

And, again, on the example of the same Iran, we see how different characters voice sometimes contradictory things. Some say that Iran is by no means seeking nuclear weapons. Others say that “if we are pressed, we will do it.” This story has been going on for decades.

However, there is no data that would allow us to say that Iran is on the verge of acquiring its own full-fledged nuclear weapons.

I think we need to proceed from an understanding of what the Iranian elite wants.

Yes, on the one hand, there are forces in Iran that are interested in normalizing relations and lifting sanctions. On the other hand, there are those who are interested in strengthening their positions by creating an enemy threat and the image of a besieged fortress.

That is, there we are witnessing a serious confrontation between different political groups – conditional “liberals” and conditional “conservatives”, who, in principle, also strive to push their position, one way or another, using an external factor.

But Biden and his administration, in any case, marked a new trend. And, it seems to me, Iran is also paying close attention to this. Since the situation in the entire region depends on whether a compromise is found.

After all, the American-Iranian confrontation will involve everyone else – both Iraq and Saudi Arabia. And Israel, of course. Although its probably to a lesser extent. Israel, with its nuclear weapons, has no reason to be afraid of someone, and its reaction to Iran is rather an imitation of fear. Because Iran, even having received nuclear weapons, is unlikely to be able to somehow harm Israel. On the contrary, it is Israel that regularly strikes pro-Iranian formations in Syria and Iraq, and at the same time feels quite impunity.

But in general, if the situation begins to stabilize, it will only be better for the states of the region, especially small ones.

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