Spotlight: Iran's trimming of nuke commitments meant to create "balance" amid U.S. drop of 2015 deal: expert

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-30 20:12:26|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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by Hassan Rouhvand

TEHRAN, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Iran's recent withdrawal from parts of its obligations under the 2015 landmark nuclear deal was meant to create balance in the state of affairs amidst the U.S. exit from the deal last year, Amir Ali Abolfath, the Iranian political expert in the American affairs, said.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, leaving the fate of the accord in question and precipitating tensions following the re-imposition of sanctions, lifted under the deal, by Washington.

Abolfath said that since May 2018 and after the U.S. exit, Iran did its best to address the situation surrounding the nuclear deal through what is sometimes referred to as "strategic patience."

"Iran waited for a year to see if the Europeans could offset the impact of the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal and secure Iran's interests. But it seemed that the Europeans, regardless of whether they could or couldn't, failed to fulfill Iran's demands and were not able to continue to abide by their commitments under JCPOA without facing harsh U.S. sanctions," he said.

The European Union announced the launch of EU's special payment channel with Iran, namely INSTEX, in January to secure trade with Iran and skirt U.S. anti-Iran sanctions.

According to a report by Iran's Eghtesadonline news website, the mechanism would only entail deals in products such as pharmaceuticals and food, which are not subject to U.S. sanctions.

However, Iran has been cynical to the EU's "seriousness" and feasibility of the mechanism and has said the arrangement must include oil sales, to supply Iran with petrodollars, or to provide substantial credit facilities for it to be beneficial.

Accordingly, the Islamic republic started withdrawal from parts of its obligations under the deal in two intervals since May 2019.

Iran announced the increase of purity of its enriched uranium beyond 3.67 percent, and surpassed low-grade enriched uranium stockpile beyond 300 kg, the limits set in the accord.

On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry warned the European signatories of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal of withdrawing from more of its commitments if they fail to meet Iran's demands.

"We are still waiting for the Europeans' practical and concrete measures in implementing the nuclear deal," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Tehran's patience is running out, Mousavi said, adding that Iran would take "the third step if the Europeans fail to honor their commitments once again."

Moreover, Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian envoy to the nuclear talks, stressed Sunday that Iran will continue to abandon more of its commitments pertaining to the deal if the remaining parties to the accord fail to help Iran reap its economic interests.

Abolfath suggested that U.S. pressures and Europe's failure to guarantee Iran's interests has left Tehran with no option but to scale back from its nuclear commitments.

"The (Iranian) move is meant to help create the lost balance in the deal and reduce U.S. pressure on the country, which may prompt Trump to change his Iran policy," he said.

Tehran does not seem to have many options in a situation where Trump's attitude and conflicting voices have not left much room for "optimism," he pointed out.

"Although I do not want to make any recommendation, I would like to reiterate that the path chosen by Iran (to reduce nuclear commitment) seems to be the only option for the Islamic Republic, despite it being very costly and difficult," Abolfath concluded.

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