IRNA – As expected following the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the failure of remaining parties to adhere to their obligations and commitments in the agreement, Tehran eventually and inevitably took the third step in scaling back its obligations; a measure that indicates Iran’s seriousness in going through a reversible process.
Since mid-September, with the first anniversary of the US departure, Iran has seen no action on the part of other members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This gradual reduction was based on the Supreme National Security Council resolution, based on Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, which allow Iran to waive its obligations in full or in part if the other party does not comply.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, which up until Friday in two separate steps first crossed the 300 kilograms ceiling for enriched uranium reserves and then increased its enrichment rate from 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent in the JCPOA, took its third step on Saturday.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran’s spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi spoke at a news conference on Saturday on details of the third step in reducing Iran’s commitments, detailing Iran’s four measures to reduce its commitments, and noted that one of Iran’s commitments in the JCPOA is related to re-design of the Arak reactor. Another is about heavy water production. The third issue is the reprocessing of the used fuel. Another issue is the level of enrichment. The next issue is development and research. The other three issues are Fordow, amount of reserves, the extent of the IAEA’s oversight and access. Out of these 7 issues, we have actually accomplished 4 or 5 (reduction of commitments) and the remaining issues will be completed.
In parts of Kamalvndi’s remarks, research and development and the process of feeding new centrifuges were mentioned, and the official underlined that Subject to provisions of a 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with six western countries (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany), the country would be allowed to start feeding gas into its IR-6 centrifuge machines as of the beginning of the 11th year after signing the deal – known as the JCPOA
Kamalvandi noted that the changes Iran has created today in research and development will further facilitate the Iran nuclear plan towards 1 million SWU. “We will easily gain 270,000 SWU with the present JCPOA; but to say when we will be able to fulfill 1 million SWU will depend on our future measures regarding research and development.”
Feeding gas into IR-4 centrifuge machines, which in accordance with the provision of Article 31 of Annex I of the JCPOA, was due to begin as of the beginning of the 11th year after signing the deal, has actually begun, the spokesman said.
“If we take four other measures, there will actually remain no more commitments in the enrichment area,” he said, adding that one of these measures include launching the middle chain of IR-2m centrifuge machines which provided in Article 32 of Annex I of JCPOA, should have been done six years later, and another measure is launching the chain of 10 IR-5 centrifuge machines and feeding gas into it,” the official went on to say.
But the 20 percent enrichment that many were speaking about before the details of the third step (i.e. reaching the level that was at the time of the signing of the JCPOA) did not happen, and a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization said, “Our current need is not 20 percent and if we want to produce 20 percent at a time, we would prefer to go one step further and have enough stocks of 4.5 percent and then start producing 20 percent.”
In recent days, the European Troika has stepped up its efforts to prevent Iran from taking the third step, but their expectation of Iran, in a space where the proposed European mechanisms still remain at the level of the slogan, could not have been productive, nor logical.
Even, after Iran unveiled its third step, some blamed the European members of the JCPOA as well as the US. Lenoyd Slutesky, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, called Iran’s third step in reducing its commitments a response to the US sanctions and European misconduct, stressing that it was a response to new US sanctions against Iran and the EU’s failure to fulfill its promises to launch a financial mechanism and compensate for the US policies to zero Iranian oil exports.
Telephone conversation between French and US Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump was significant as the French sought to prevent Tehran’s third step from being taken; a dialogue that seems to have had no satisfactory result. Paris’ efforts to coordinate with the US, even on issues such as the creation of a $15 billion credit line with Iran uncovered in recent days, have made Iran more determined to take the next step.
Now all are looking ahead to the deadline of Iran’s fourth step; a move that will be taken if the status quo continues and disappointment concerning implementations of the promises by the other sides. So, Acting Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Cornel Feruta has traveled to Iran to perhaps discourage the Iranian authorities from continuing scale back steps in the JCPOA.