Correspondent in Jerusalem
Last-minute pressure from the European signatories of the nuclear pact, the visit of the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Tehran and the green light from the United States to return to the negotiating table have not been enough to deter the Islamic republic, which is going ahead with its plan to restrict inspections by IAEA experts.
The meeting held this Sunday ended with a minimum pact whereby the UN nuclear watchdog will be able to continue with “necessary” verification and monitoring activities, although there will be less access and no more rapid inspections, his boss said, Rafael Grossi, at the end of the meeting. “What we agreed is something that is viable, it is useful to close this gap that we are having, it saves the situation now,” Grossi admitted.
Is about a three-month “temporary fix” to keep a watch “Satisfactory” that seeks to control the scope of the Iranian nuclear program, although inspections will be limited from Tuesday, as announced by the Islamic republic. “Access will be reduced, make no mistake, but we will be able to maintain the necessary level of surveillance and verification,” Grossi said upon his return from Tehran.
This is not an ultimatum. Like any other democracy, we must apply a law approved by Parliament. But it is not a move to abandon the agreement, ”declared Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
The head of Iranian diplomacy insisted once again that “as soon as they comply with the agreement, we will also comply with it in its entirety”, referring to Tehran’s demand that the United States lift the sanctions unilaterally imposed by Donald Trump in 2018. Punishments that have cost the country’s economy around a trillion dollars, according to Zarif, who expects “some kind of compensation in this regard.”
The law, which will take effect tomorrow, was passed in Parliament following the November assassination of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. The deputies then agreed to limit cooperation with international inspectors until Washington lifted sanctions, but at the moment there are no movements in the White House in this direction. “In my opinion, inspections will be reduced by 20 to 30% after the application of the norm,” said the Deputy Foreign Minister, Abas Araghchi.
Reasons for concern
IAEA director Rafael Grossi traveled to Iran to “find a mutually acceptable solution.” Tehran’s ambassador to this UN agency, Kazem Gharibabadi, declared that “we have had fruitful discussions based on mutual respect,” but did not provide further details. In addition to restrictions on inspectors, the islamic republic has returned to producing uranium metal, necessary to produce atomic fuel, but can also be used to make the nucleus of a nuclear warhead. At the same time, it has started to enrich uranium to a purity of 20%, a far cry from the 3.67% allowed, and has started up state-of-the-art centrifuges. These are the steps that qualify as “reversible” as soon as Joe Biden lifts the punishment.
Iranians move away step by step from the agreement signed in 2015, a pact that Trump abandoned and that now Biden says he wants to recover. «The United States would accept an invitation from the High Representative of the European Union to attend a meeting of the P5 + 1 (a group made up of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China) and Iran to discuss a diplomatic path to advance in the Iranian nuclear program ”, announced the State Department last week in a gesture that broke with the four years of frentism of the previous occupant of the White House.
We need actions, not promises. We want to see a change in attitude so that the arbitrariness that began with Trump is not repeated, “Zarif responded to this possibility of returning to dialogue. In this context, the Tehran regime is studying the new window that opens with the US, but they announced that they will only make a decision “after consulting with friends and allies such as China and Russia,” Araghchi said.