Iran has reaffirmed its demands for the lifting of sanctions, and a government spokesman said that Tehran would suspend the additional protocol attached to the nuclear agreement if those sanctions did not expire, days before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden.
The spokesman, Ali Rabiei, stated – in response to a question by Al-Jazeera during a press conference – that Iran has no choice but to stop the implementation of the additional protocol if the sanctions are not lifted before February 21 next.
He added that his country hopes that the new US administration will return to its nuclear commitments so that Tehran will not be forced to implement this step.
The suspension of the additional protocol is among the 9 escalating steps approved by the Iranian parliament as part of a law to respond to the assassination of the prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran in late November.
Member of Parliament Ahmed Amir Abadi Farhani said in a statement on Saturday that “if the Americans do not lift the financial, banking and oil sanctions by February 21, we will expel, according to law, IAEA inspectors from the country for sure and end the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol.”
What is an additional protocol?
The Additional Protocol gives the International Atomic Energy Agency expanded rights to obtain information and access nuclear sites.
According to a definition on the agency’s website, “With regard to the countries with which a comprehensive safeguards agreement is concluded, the additional protocol aims to fill the gaps in the information reported within the framework of the agreement … and to enable the agency to obtain a more complete picture of the nuclear programs of such countries, their plans, and their nuclear material assets, and their nuclear trade. “.
My state announces another requirement
In the same context, Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ali Khamenei, said that Iran calls for the abolition of the mechanism for re-imposing the sanctions contained in the 2015 nuclear deal, if new talks are held with world powers.
“This mechanism should be abandoned as an irrational principle, in the event of further talks,” Velayati said in an interview published on the website of the Leader of the Revolution.
Velayati – a former foreign minister – added that “the supreme leader was not satisfied from the start with this mechanism, which was included against his will.” This mechanism allows for the re-imposition of all UN sanctions on Iran if it violates its obligations in the agreement.
Last week, Iran carried out one of its escalating steps demanded by Parliament, as it began enriching uranium with a purity of 20% at the underground Fordo nuclear facility, a level it had reached before the agreement was reached with world powers to contain its nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting sanctions on it.
In this context, the governments of the 27-member European Union issued a statement late yesterday evening, Monday, saying that “Iran’s embarking on uranium enrichment to a purity of 20% … is a very dangerous development and a source of great concern.”
The statement added that the Iranian action “at this critical stage may undermine efforts to build on the existing diplomatic process.”
The EU governments urged Iran to “refrain from further escalation and to turn away from this action without delay.”
On the other hand, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said in a statement to Reuters on Monday that the world powers and Iran have weeks, not months, to save the nuclear deal, as soon as the US President-elect Joe Biden takes office on the 20th of this month.
The outgoing US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the nuclear deal in 2018, and implemented what was called a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran to force it to negotiate new terms.
The next US administration sees the possibility of reviving the nuclear deal again, and Jake Sullivan – chosen by President-elect Biden for the position of National Security Adviser – said in his statements last month that the new administration wants to return Iran “to the fund,” as he put it.
He added that this will come through the return of the United States to the nuclear agreement, and forcing Tehran to comply with its terms.