A year after Trump's decision to pull out of nuclear agreement, Iran partially restarts its nuclear programme, lifting limitations on uranium enrichment and heavy water reserves. This is not the end of the nuclear deal, but Iran’s Rouhani wants guarantees from other parties. Meanwhile, Washington is deploying bombers to the Middle East, as Pompeo makes a surprise visit to Baghdad.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Exactly one year after US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, announced that his government would partially resume its nuclear programme, uranium enrichment included.
Speaking on state television, the Iranian leader informed the remaining signatories – United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia – that they had 60 days to make good on their promises to protect Iran’s oil and banking interests.
Rouhani said that the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme had been reached in the world’s interest, but that Iran’s enemies. i.e. Trump and the US, had forced him to roll back Iran’s commitment.
For this reason, Iran no longer feels bound to keep limitations on uranium enrichment and heavy water reserves. The 60 days deadline applies to the production of higher enriched uranium.
Before Rouhani’s formal announcement, the Iranian government had already informed the signatories of the deal of its decision, insisting that they have two months to fulfill their commitment to defend Iran’s oil and banking sectors, which have been hard hit by US sanctions.
In May 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran in history.
As noted by the International Monetary Fund, this decision has negatively impacted Iran’s economy, especially its oil exports, which was the goal of the second wave of sanctions that came into effect on 4 November 2018.
Despite Washington’s hardline stance, the Islamic Republic continues to honour its commitments under the nuclear agreement, as certified by the IAEA experts.
However, in the absence of an adequate response to its concerns, Iran will withdraw from the other commitments undertaken when it signed the deal four years ago.
"The JCPOA has a national strategic foundation. It was not an individual or partisan or governmental issue,” Rouhani said. “Rather, it was a national decision which was made by the entire governing system”.
At the same time, “The Iranian people and the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA,” Rouhani said. “These are actions in line with the JCPOA.”
In Moscow, where he is on a diplomatic mission, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the decision to suspend some commitments under the deal does not violate it, nor does Iran want to withdraw.
In his view, Articles of 26 and 36 entitle Iran to raise complaint about breaches to the international deal in the joint commission. It also allows it to end some or all commitments if one of the parties does not fully uphold the agreement or re-introduces sanctions, which is what the United States did.
Tehran's announcement comes a few hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Iraq to secure Baghdad's support against Iran.
In parallel, the United States is rearranging its military positioning in Middle East, sending B-52 fighter-bombers, aircraft carriers and warships to the region.
For some time, the US administration, driven by National Security Adviser John Bolton, has adopted a bellicose rhetoric against Iran, which is having concrete consequences.
Many analysts and experts agree that as a result of escalating tensions, the Islamic Republic might find itself pitted against the United States (plus Israel, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, etc.).
Thousands of US and Iranian troops are already operating within easy reach of each other in Syria and Iraq and there is a real danger that an incident might lead to fighting with devastating consequences.
The only viable solution is to reopen diplomatic channels between Washington and Tehran, as did the Obama administration under difficult circumstances. However, at present, those fanning the winds of war seem to have the upper hand in the White House.