A former senior Iranian lawmaker says that European Union’s latest plan to bring about a nuclear deal with Iran would be a partial one, with minimal trade-offs.
Fararu website in Tehran quoted Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, former chairman of parliament’s foreign policy committee as saying that fully restoring the JCPOA is not possible in current circumstances, therefore, the EU is proposing lifting oil exports sanctions in return for “some monitoring” of Iran’s nuclear activities.
The conservative Iranian politician did not say if he has concrete information about the EU plan, which this week its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell presented to Washington and Tehran for consideration. But given statements lately by some officials and well-informed sources that restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement, JCPOA, is difficult, a limited plan might make sense from the perspective of Iran.
Tehran has always labeled the nuclear talks as “negotiations to lift sanctions” and if a plan calls for oil sanctions to be lifted in exchange for monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Iran has not really given up much.
Falahatpisheh did not say if he believes Iran’s uranium enrichment would be stopped or curtailed according to Borrell’s plan, a key issue given the fact that Tehran has enriched a considerable amount of fissile material to 60-percent and either already has enough for a nuclear bomb or is close to obtaining it.
Meanwhile, Axios quoted White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk as having told of experts last week that it “highly unlikely” that the JCPOA will be revived in the near future. He was also quoted as saying that with a deal highly unlikely, the Biden Administration plans to strengthen sanctions and diplomatic isolation against Tehran, “but not needlessly escalate the situation.” Use of force would only be a last resort; he was quoted as saying.
Borrell has said that his proposal includes a detailed plan about the lifting of sanctions, as well as steps that Iran must take, without offering details. This, in general might not be much different from what Falahatpisheh says the “temporary” deal could be.
John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesman in a briefing on Wednesday refused to comment on what Axios had reported about McGurk’s remarks.
However, he told reporters that the US remains committed first, “to seeing Iran never achieve a nuclear weapons capability,” and second, “the President believes diplomacy is the best path forward to see that outcome.” This was a reiteration of the long-held White House position.
Kirby added, “the negotiations are pretty well complete on a new JCPOA, and it’s on the table. And the onus is now on Iran to decide whether they’re going to take that deal or not.” He said that Washington and its European allies still believe that Tehran will “come back into compliance” with the JCPOA.
Kirby was not asked about Borrell’s proposal at the briefing, but he added that the President has an obligation to defend US interests and allies in the Middle East against continuing non-nuclear threats by Iran. The US has an obligation “to defend ourselves and to help defend our allies and partners against the range of other Iranian threatening behavior: their burgeoning ballistic missile capability, which continues to improve; their support for terrorist groups; their threats in the maritime environment. All of that is still happening.”