Former Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari says insisting on higher uranium enrichment has imposed billions of dollars of unnecessary cost and hardship on the nation.
“Additional activities [to produce highly enriched uranium] have imposed billions of unnecessary cost and hardship on the [Iranian people] and thwarted the country’s progress it deserves given that we have not been, and are not, seeking to build nuclear bombs, and that we have achieved nuclear know-how and can produce 20 percent enriched uranium for nuclear medicine and agricultural purposes if we want to,” Motahari, a former deputy speaker of the Iranian parliament, tweeted Wednesday.
“We have behaved as if the Revolution is synonymous with centrifuges [without which it] would be unable to achieve some of its fundamental ideals,” Motahari said. He added that officials’ insistence on guarantees, verification, and resolution of the remaining issues with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) now is necessary. “But we should never have reached this point.”
Motahari’s tweet appears to be an attempt at encouraging the authorities not to shut the door on a possible deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and not taking steps such as starting new enrichment activities that could jeopardize it, as a deal appears to be within reach.
An IAEA report seen by Reuters on Wednesday revealed that Iran has begun enriching uranium with the second of three cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-6 centrifuges recently installed at an underground plant at Natanz.
The IR-6 is Iran’s most advanced model, far more efficient than the first-generation IR-1 that the 2015 deal lets it enrich with. For more than a year Iran has been using IR-6 centrifuges to enrich uranium to up to 60% purity, close to weapons-grade, at an above-ground plant at Natanz.
Ali Alizadeh, member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) Thursday that Iran accepted the EU's proposal, which The US appeared to have agreed to, “with two or three small conditions”.
Alizadeh said in the past few days many in Iran were hoping that a deal was possible “within a couple of days” and some even said foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was getting ready to leave the country to sign the agreement. “But hopes of an agreement are almost disappearing due to the United States’ recent note (response to the proposal),” he added.
According to Alizadeh, Iranians believed that the EU's proposal was prepared with US cooperation and consent. “The American side’s behavior is now a little different from before and therefore given the recent US response, reaching an agreement can take longer.”
Amir-Abdollahian said Wednesday that Iran is “carefully reviewing” the European Union’s August 8 proposal but “stronger guarantees from the other party” are required for a “sustainable deal”. Iranian officials have repeatedly said that a deal will not be final until “everything is agreed upon”.
Pundits believe a restored deal may be weak given the many other unresolved issues between Iran and the United States.
“Even if this happens, as in 2015, it will only be an expression of tactical tolerance of the other side, and the foundations of such an agreement will be shaky,” moderate-conservative Fararu website said in an editorial Thursday. “Chances of Iran and the US reaching a sustainable agreement will remain very low as long as the problems between them are not addressed in a fundamental manner,” it said.