French President Emmanuel Macron speaking on September 1, 2022

Macron Wants Iran Nuclear Deal In ‘Days’ As Raisi Rejects ‘Domination’

Thursday, 09/01/2022

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed hope Thursday for a renewed Iran nuclear deal as President Ebrahim Raisi proclaimed defeat for US ‘maximum pressure.’

“I hope that in the next few days the JCPOA will be concluded,” Macron told French ambassadors in a Paris speech, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement is officially named.

Speaking to a Tehran conference honoring Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Raisi suggested United States officials had admitted that ‘maximum pressure’ had been defeated by the “will of the Iranian people” and had led nowhere. “The Islamic Republic will not accept domination,” Raisi said. “Today it has been proved that the Islamic Republic of Iran is…a power that will not bow to domination.”

Raisi’s remarks came as Iran is considering the latest US input, sent August 24 via the European Union, into what appears to be the last stage of 17-month talks designed to revive the JCPOA.

A series of reports, both in the Israeli media and emerging from briefings in Iran, have suggested the talks have come to focus on a stage-by-stage approach to reviving the JCPOA, which former US President Donald Trump left in 2018 while imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions.

JCPOA revival in stages

According to an account given by Axios Thursday citing “sources briefed on the draft,” a third stage, beginning with ‘Reimplementation Day,’ would see the Iranian nuclear program back within JCPOA limits and the ‘full’ lifting of those US sanctions incompatible with the 2015 agreement.

President Ebrahim Raisi speaking in Tehran on September 1, 2022

This would effectively postpone until ‘Reimplementation Day’ Tehran’s current insistence, as a condition for JCPOA revival, on the ending of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe into unexplained uranium traces found in Iran.

A US official cited by Axios said that, while there would be interim steps before the third stage – both with Iran restricting its nuclear program and the US easing sanctions – any attempt by Iran by Reimplementation Day to go further unless the IAEA probe ended would risk “delaying the lifting of sanctions.”

Time for progress?

Such a timetable might give IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi time for progress. It could also avoid confrontation at the IAEA board of governors meeting September 12-16, which comes three months after the board censured Iran over failure to explain the uranium traces to the agency’s satisfaction.

But several senior Iranians, including Raisi, have this week stressed Iran’s commitment to the agency dropping the probe before the JCPOA is restored. Sardar Mohammad Ismail Kothari, a parliamentary deputy for Tehran, said Thursday that the current Raisi government, working closely with parliament, had been effective in pursuing Iran’s rights and in upping uranium enrichment to 60 precent, far above the 3.67 percent JCPOA cap, and near the 90 percent generally deemed ‘weapons grade.’

In Washington, criticism of JCPOA revival has been stepped up both by Congresspeople and the advocacy group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Fifty lawmakers, mostly Democrats sent a letter to Biden on Thursday asking him to “provide Congress with the full text of any proposal to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement…including any side agreements, and consult with Congress prior to reentering that agreement.”

But proponents of the 2015 agreement have also been active. “Let’s be clear: Trump’s plan of maximum pressure didn’t work,” tweeted Sara Jacobs, a Democrat in the House of Representatives Wednesday. Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” advocacy group, tweeted Thursday a point-by-point rebuttal of AIPAC’s recent talking points and defended the JCPOA as “the best means of blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”

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