Iran has set an ultimatum for the survival of a 2015 nuclear accord and said that it will take the next step to reduce certain commitments under the deal.

Iran Press/ Iran news: On May 8, Iran notified its remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal that it would suspend the implementation of some of its commitments in reaction to the US’ unilateral withdrawal and Europe’s failure to live up to its commitments.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said that the decision is aimed at “safeguarding the Iranian nation’s security and interests” in the line with national rights under Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.

At a cabinet session on May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the five remaining parties to the JCPOA -Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany- have been informed of Tehran’s decision to refuse to continue honoring two commitments under the deal.

For the first step, Iran no longer considered itself committed to the limits agreed under the deal on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water stocks.

Iran stopped selling any enriched uranium above the 300-kg limit in exchange for yellow cake and also stops selling its heavy water above the limit of 130 tons.

On July 1, Iranian Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran’s enriched Uranium stockpile has exceeded the 300kg limit and Iran is carrying out the second phase of reducing its nuclear commitments.

"Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has exceeded 300 kg as planned and we have explicitly declared what actions we will take and we see these actions as our right that is stipulated in the JCPOA," Zarif said.

International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran has followed through on its decision to reduce commitments to the nuclear deal by accumulating more enriched uranium than allowed under the accord.

Tehran's second reciprocal step in JCPOA

In the second phase, Iran’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor — which was agreed to be redesigned under the agreement — will resume its previous activities.

Iran will also increase the level of its uranium enrichment, and will no longer stick to the 3.67% limit it had agreed upon in JCPOA.

“As of July 7, the Arak reactor would be restored to its former condition, which they (other parties) used to claim was ‘dangerous’ and could produce plutonium” if the other deal partners fail to fully act on their commitments under the accord, Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting on July 3.

“Iran has never intended to be stubborn and pull out of the deal, and the other parties can never criticise Iran for its actions, because Iran has repeatedly extended its deadlines at the request of European leaders,” he said.

The moves, Iran says, are aimed at spurring the Europeans to honour their end of the bargain.

Britain, France, and Germany in January introduced a special trade mechanism, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (Instex), in order to facilitate doing business with Tehran in the face of the US sanctions.

However, Zarif says Instex, which is yet to be fully operational, is just a prelude to implementation of 11 commitments the Europeans must undertake to save the JCPOA.

These include Iran’s oil sales, which the US has been trying to block through the sanctions, secure financial returns from the sales and investment in Iran, as well as facilitation of transport, aviation, and shipping activities involving the country.

Who triggered JCPOA Tension?

Tehran, after some years of restraint, is now taking reciprocal steps to reduce its obligations; a tactic that has embarrassed the violators.

This tactic is the result of two factors; first, the official US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and the other members’ disrespect for their commitments and fulfilling Iran's demands.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the nuclear accord and threatened US sanctions against any international companies that continued to do business with Iran.

Following the US withdrawal, Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the accord.

However, the EU’s failure of ensuring Iran’s economic interests forced Tehran to stop honouring certain commitments under JCPOA in May 2019.

The United States has increased its pressure on Iran in the circumstance that other countries have either remained silent about US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the JCPOA, or their support for a nuclear deal has not exceeded the level of words without action.

This situation continued to the extent that Trump increased the scope of his sanctions and extended to other areas, including nuclear.

The ball is now in the European court and can save its promise by fulfilling the demands of Tehran, or we shall see the unravelling of the deal that has taken more than a decade of negotiations to reach.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran’s decision to scale down its commitments under the JCPOA is indeed aimed at protecting the multilateral deal, not killing it.  101/211

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