12/03/2020, 09.02
IRAN - USA
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Rouhani and Biden promise to salvage the nuclear agreement

The Iranian leader is opposed to a parliamentary law that aims to block UN inspections and revive uranium enrichment.  A "harmful" norm for dialogue, a political maneuver in view of the presidential elections in June.  The future tenant of the White House ready to revive the JCPOA, the "best way" to ensure "stability" in the region.

 

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and (future) US counterpart Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20, are working from opposing sides to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, as a path for peace in the Middle East.  Yesterday the head of the Tehran government opposed the law, approved the day before by Parliament (the Majlis), aimed at blocking inspections by UN experts and relaunching uranium enrichment.

Rouhani criticised the norm  passed by the Assembly as "harmful" for the diplomatic efforts underway by the Iranian government to restore the agreement and ease US sanctions. 

In 2018, outgoing US President Donald Trump ordered the United States pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),​​ signed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015, despite the opposition of the international community.  Trump followed the withdrawal by imposing the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. The decision has negatively impacted the Iranian economy as noted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

In response, Tehran threatened to resume enrichment of uranium for civilian purposes and has already exceeded low-enriched uranium reserves, now 12 times higher than the limits allowed under the agreement.

The discord within the Islamic Republic on the JCPOA, heightened by  the assassination of the scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, reflects the divisions between the moderate camp headed by the president and the radical parliamentarians, close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  The latter control the Assembly with a firm majority and represent an obstacle to the timid attempts at reforms and dialogue with the West - in the hands of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zafari - promoted by the government.

The law passed by the Majlis calls for "suspension of United Nations inspections" and urges the government to "resume uranium enrichment to 20%", if Europe is not able to loosen the grip of US sanctions on the oil and banking industry in the country.  During a government meeting, Rouhani explained that he "does not share" the aim of the bill, which he considers "harmful" to the "diplomatic activities implemented".  He then accused the parliamentarians of maneuvering from behind the scenes ahead of the vote in the presidential elections, scheduled for June.

Meanwhile, in the United States, President-elect Joe Biden is planning to lift Trump's sanctions, in an attempt to restart the negotiations between Washington and Tehran.

Interviewed by the New York Times, the next tenant of the White House points out that if Iran resumes strictly abiding by the terms of the JCPOA, the US will return to the 2015 agreement. It will be the starting point for subsequent negotiations and  for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.  "The best way - he said - to achieve some stability in the [Middle Eastern] region is to deal with the nuclear program."  “The last goddamn thing we need in that part of the world is a buildup of nuclear capability,” Biden said.

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