2021-April-12 16:19
2021-February-21  18:31

Senior MP: Suspension of Additional Protocol Happening Under N. Deal

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s decision to stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT is happening in line with the rights envisaged for Tehran in the nuclear deal, a senior parliament member said Sunday.

“We will stop implementation of the Additional Protocol on February 23 and we do not want to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Meantime, stopping implementation of the Additional Protocol does not mean withdrawing from the nuclear deal,” Deputy Chairperson of the parliament’s Article 90 Commission Seyed Mahmoud Nabavian told FNA.

He explained that suspension of the Additional Protocol is based on the nuclear deal’s articles 36 and 37 which underline that if the removed sanctions against Iran return again, the country will consider the issue as a ground to stop implementation of all or parts of its undertakings.

“We want to decrease implementation of certain paragraphs of the nuclear deal based on paragraph 37. What is wrong with it? We are acting based on the nuclear deal,” Nabavian said.

Tehran prepares to stop voluntary implementation of the additional protocol to the NPT after the US Biden administration refrained from removing the sanctions against Iran in compliance with the terms of UN Resolution 2231 and the nuclear deal.

Yet, Tehran has stressed that IAEA inspections would continue under the NPT similar to the era before the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as Iran is still a signatory to the treaty.

Earlier this week, Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi had said the visit to Tehran by the UN nuclear watchdog chief is aimed at discussing bilateral ties as well as implementation of the Iranian parliament's law to stop inspections beyond the safeguards agreements.

Kamalvandi said on Wednesday that Grossi will arrive in Tehran on Saturday evening and will hold meetings with the head and the other officials of the AEOI on Sunday.

He said that the visit is about the method to implement the contents of the February 15 letter of Iran to the Agency about the parliament's strategic law of sanctions removal, adding that it takes place at the request of the IAEA.

Kamalvandi said that the law of the parliament mandates that the government should stop inspections beyond the safeguards agreements by February 23.

He added that other issues to be addressed during the visit will be technical issues and cooperation between Tehran and the Agency.

Iran’s Permanent Envoy to the Vienna-based International Organizations Kazzem Qaribabadi announced that Grossi is due to travel to Tehran on Saturday for technical talks.

“The visit will be made at the request of the IAEA director-general and is aimed at technical talks with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran on how to implement the provisions of Iran's February 15 letter to the IAEA and Article 6 of the Strategic Action Law approved by the Iranian Parliament and how to continue cooperation between the two sides within the framework of the new measures and developments,” Qaribabadi said on Wednesday.

Qaribabadi had said on Monday that Iran has informed the Grossi of suspension of the country’s voluntary actions under the JCPOA from February 23, 2021.

The measure is based on the Strategic Action Plan approved by Iran’s parliament and due to the lack of commitment of other JCPOA signatories to lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, he added.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that his government will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT as of February 21 in compliance with parliament law.

“The law that the parliament has passed on the nuclear issue will be implemented by the government,” Rouhani said, adding, “One of the paragraphs [of the law] reiterates that we should exit from the Additional Protocol as of February 23; and we will cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the basis of the Safeguards.”

He stressed that there is no place for weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, in Iran's defense doctrine as the firm view of the establishment.

"We will not look for nuclear weapons, but for the peaceful nuclear technology that is our right," Rouhani went on to say.

Also, on Tuesday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee announced on Tuesday that the country will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT due to the US and other parties’ disloyalty to the nuclear deal.

“Based on the sixth paragraph of the parliament’s bill and given the fact that sanctions have not been removed so far, the government and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) are required to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol which will decrease the supervisions and inspections beyond the IAEA’s safeguards agreements,” Rabiyee told reporters in a press conference.

He noted that the measure does not take time and can be carried out rapidly, but meantime, said Iran is still a member of the safeguards agreements, which means that a major part of the inspections which are not within the framework of the Additional Protocol will continue.

“Therefore, stopping the voluntary implementation of the protocol does not mean terminating cooperation with the Agency. This cooperation will continue and the Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely inform the Agency of all its moves in advance in a letter, as has been the case so far,” Rabiyee said.

“It is clear that this new measure is against Iran’s will and was adopted due to the US lagging in lifting sanctions and fulfilling its obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We continue to consider the nuclear deal a creditable agreement and the best possible agreement, and we are ready to immediately reverse all steps taken under paragraph 36 of the nuclear deal to their original status as stated in the nuclear deal provided that the US and other parties to the agreement revive their undertakings,” he added.

Rabiyee expressed the hope that the US and three European members of the nuclear deal (France, Britain and Germany) would take the closing window of opportunity to keep diplomacy alive.

Senior Iranian political analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm also noted Iran’s decision to further decrease its nuclear deal undertakings by stopping the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT, and said the Biden administration's strategy is based on the US long-time reluctance to resolve conflict with Tehran.

"All throughout the past two decades Iran has always been loyal to the terms of its agreements with the EU and the US, even in the words of the Western experts and officials, while the Americans and Europeans have never complied with their undertakings since Iran has always been after a conflict resolution, but the opposite side has only been after a containment of Iran's power, specially since President Barack Obama took office when the containment strategy was officially put into practice," Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm told FNA in mid February.

"Despite all the media hype and propaganda, Donald Trump also displayed very well that he also only practiced the same formula that works through threats and sanctions, though he played it very nively. And now Biden, despite all the media show off during his presidential campaign is adamant to removing the sanctions to display that he also continues to be loyal to the same old containment strategy," he continued.

“As regards the step to be taken by Iran on the February 21 that entails an end to the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, mention should be made that the move would not mean an end to the IAEA inspection of Iran's nuclear program as IAEA inspectors will continue operations and visits under Iran's NPT obligations, which means that the IAEA missions and inspections would narrow down as Iran accepted to grant such a vast access to the UN nuclear watchdog agency under the nuclear deal and in return for specific merits that have, unfortunately, not been given to Iran 6 years into the deal, including the termination of the sanctions,” Khoshcheshm said.

“As has been acknowledged globally, Iran has fulfilled all its undertakings in the framework of the nuclear deal, while the opposite party has defied the deal and refrained from making any concession," he said, and explained, "Even after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran continued full compliance for 14 months, and when it eventually came to draw a balance between its gives and takes, it reduced its R&D and enrichment undertakings, but it still continues compliance with the most vital part of its obligations that pertain to inspections under the voluntary implemention of the Additional Protocol. Compliance with this part of the committments could be deemed even as more vital than its modified undertakings since the information given to the IAEA under this harsh regime of inspections is highly valuable.”

He further pointed out that based on the official statements of former Iranian nuclear officials, similar information provided to the IAEA leaked and eventually ended up in the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientists.

Khoshcheshm underlined that Iran took these steps to build trust and transparency, “but on the opposite end of this bargain, firstly, the agency is never satisfied and always raises excessive demands for inspection of other sites, and secondly, Iran took up to go under such a harsh regime of inspections under the nuclear deal just in return for a removal of the sanctions, which never happened".

“We have reached a well-established balance, we implement our undertakings - more or less - and they do not lift the sanctions, so they have no reason to change this trend unless you change your strategy and the Islamic Republic has adopted active resistance to this end, that is to say Tehran takes these modification steps to change this balance and impose costs on the other side in a bid to change the other side's approach, and the halt of Iran's unilateral compliance with the nuclear deal is the minimum price that the other side should pay for its non-compliance,” he added.

“Therefore, if they are supposed to continue the same trend as they did 7 years ago, we should also return the capabilities that we had back then in early 2013,” the senior analyst said.

“Another important issue is the timing of these steps; if we had done this move last year or up until May when the one-and-a-half to two-year-long maximum efficiency period of the sanctions ended, some might have thought that the impact of sanctions had increased because of this measure. However, since May, the maximum pressure of the sanctions has been on decline and according to what the Western media reports, Iran has always been increasing its oil and petrol exports to the point that in November, before the US election, Iran was exporting 1.5 million barrels of oil, gasoline and products per day, and based on the Iranian oil minister's recent announcement Iran has set a new record in exporting oil products in the last 8 months. So, although there is no denial that this loss of efficiency for the sanctions has a limit and would stop somewhere, the impact of the sanctions is on decline now,” Khoshcheshm said.

He added as there is no more economic sectors or actors to go under the US sanctions, the US seems to be empty-handed to increase the sanctions pressure on Tehran, and this makes the present period a proper time for Iran to further reduce its undertakings under the nuclear deal.

"Also, the Iranian political parties and people are now convinced that Biden is no different from Trump when it comes to the US strategy towards Iran, and therefore, people, political parties and factions now stand united to powerfully go for the next step of modifications," the analyst continued.

Khoshcheshm noted that by taking these steps Iran is moving towards zeroing implementation of its nuclear deal undertakings but has not left the agreement, adding that now time is on Iran’s side to pressure the other side to fulfill its undertakings and change approach.

He noted that the stop of the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol to the NPT and other reductions in undertakings done by Iran so far are all happening under paragraph 26 of the nuclear deal which entitles Iran to modify part or all its undertakings in return for the US and EU defiance of their committments, reiterating that the February 21 move does not mean a discard of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Our measure does not mean that we have left the nuclear deal. This happens when you go for the dispute settlement mechanism envisioned in paragraphs 36 and 37 of the nuclear deal that would end the deal after a UN Security Council voting, or make an official declaration on withdrawing from the nuclear deal similar to the US move, though this latter choice is not a formal and legal exit from the deal. So we are still inside the nuclear deal but without making free concessions to the other side,” he said.

Last month, Iranian Envoy and Permanent Representative to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi underlined that if Biden decides to return to the nuclear deal, Washington should comply with all its undertakings in exact accordance with the internationally-endorsed agreement.

“We make decision and take reciprocal action considering Biden's moves vis a vis the nuclear deal. We have repeatedly demanded the US to return to the nuclear deal and this return should be complete and without preconditions, that is to say, no issue related or unrelated to the nuclear deal should be put forward for discussion,” Takht Ravanchi said.

“It should only be clear that the US international undertakings cannot be half-fulfilled. If they claim to return to the nuclear deal, this return should be accompanied by the full implementation of their undertakings with no hesitation or controversy,” he added.

Takht Ravanchi stressed Iran’s clear position towards the nuclear deal, and said, “We live up to our undertakings.”

He referred to the parliament’s bill to take strategic measures to counter the US sanctions against Iran, and said, “There is a timetable in the parliament’s bill and we are moving in the same direction, so we (at the foreign ministry) are not entitled to specify the period for how long we will wait. In the first place, we make decisions based on national interests, and secondly, we should act on the basis of and within the framework of the parliamentary bill.”

His remarks came after Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the country is at present producing nearly half a kilo of uranium enriched to the 20% purity level, meantime, saying that Tehran’s steps to reduce nuclear deal undertakings after the West’s disloyalties can all be backtracked.

“Based on the latest news I have, they (the Iranian scientists at nuclear installations) are producing 20 grams (of 20% enriched uranium) every hour; meaning that practically, we are producing half a kilo every day,” Salehi said in an interview with the Persian-language Khamenei.ir website released last month.

“We produce and store this 20% (enriched uranium) and if they return to the nuclear deal, we will return to our undertakings too,” he added.

Asked about the recent bill approved by the parliament to adopt strategic measures to remove sanctions against Iran, Salehi said that the AEOI is required to implement it.

“It is a reality and both the government and the AEOI have declared that they do not have any technical problems with implementation of the parliament’s bill and we launched 20% enrichment within 24 hours,” he said.

Salehi also underlined the need for Washington to remove all sanctions against Iran, specially those which prevent the country’s oil sales and banking transactions.

Iranian legislators had in January praised the AEOI for restarting enrichment of uranium at 20-percent purity level, and called for the full implementation of the recent parliamentarian law to counter the illegal US sanctions against the country.

In a statement, 190 legislators expressed their support for the AEOI’s resumption of 20% uranium enrichment and urged the body to fully and precisely implement the law ratified as a counteractive move to the sanctions illegally imposed on the country, especially those by the United States.

The lawmakers said the parliament approved the ‘Strategic Counteractive Plan for Lifting Sanctions and Safeguarding Rights of Iranian People’ to highlight Iran’s legitimate right to use peaceful nuclear technology and the importance of lifting all cruel sanctions against the country.

The Iranian parliamentarians in a meeting on December 1, 2020 ratified the generalities of a bill to adopt strategic measures to remove sanctions against the country and defend the nation’s interests.

The lawmakers, in November, had given the green light to the single-urgency of the strategic motion, but the plan turned into a double-urgency on Sunday after the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's car was targeted by an explosion and machinegun fire in Damavand's Absard 40 kilometers to the East of Tehran on Friday November 27, 2020.

Under the bill, the AEOI is required to start in two months after the approval of the present bill to produce at least 120 kg of 20%-enriched uranium annually at Fordow nuclear site and store it inside the country, increase the enrichment capacity and production of enriched uranium to at least 500 kg per month, start the installation of centrifuges, gas injection, enrichment, and storage of materials up to proper purity levels within 3 months, via at least 1000 IR-2m centrifuges in the underground part of Shahid Ahmadi Roshan facility in Natanz, transfer any enrichment, research, and development operations of IR-6 centrifuges to the nuclear site of Shahid Ali Mohammadi in Fordow, and start enrichment operation via at least 164 centrifuges and expand it to 1000 by the end of 20 March 2021 (end of the Iranian calendar year) and return the 40 megawatts Arak heavy water reactor to its pre-JCPOA condition by reviving the heart (calandria) of the reactor within 4 months from the date of the adoption of this law.

Also, the government is required to suspend the nuclear deal-based regulatory access under the Additional Protocol and beyond within 2 months after the adoption of the law based on the articles 36 and 37 of the nuclear deal.

Iran signed the JCPOA with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China — in 2015. 

Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the US' withdrawal.

On January 5, 2020, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

Meantime, Biden has recently said in a CNN article that he wants a renegotiation of the contents of the deal before he agrees to rejoin the agreement.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” he wrote, mentioning that he wants changes to the contents of the nuclear deal and guarantees from Tehran that it would be open for compromise to strike multiple deals over its missile and regional powers as well as a number of other issues that have been the bones of contention between the two sides in the last four decades.

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had stressed that the US has violated the nuclear deal and is in no position to ask for any conditions for its return to the JCPOA, adding that it's Tehran that has its own terms to allow the US back into the internationally endorsed agreement.

The foreign minister has reiterated time and again that Tehran would not change even a single word of the agreement, and cautioned the US that it needs to pay reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Iran through its retreat from the nuclear agreement and give enough insurances that it would not go for initiating the trigger mechanism again before it could get back to the deal.

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Kamalvandi said his country enjoys the capability to produce 120 kg of uranium with 20% purity in 8 months, that's 4 months faster than the one-year period required by a recent parliament approval.