Iran expressed no delight in a reported US offer to revive the 2015 nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “No proposal is needed for the US to rejoin the JCPOA,” tweeted the Iranian mission at the United Nations.
The Twitter statement was addressing a March 29 report by the US-based newspaper Politico that released the proposal’s details from unnamed officials at the administration of US President Joe Biden. According to the report, the offer calls on Iran to suspend its controversial 20%-level uranium enrichment and put a brake on its advanced centrifuges. In return, Tehran will enjoy a partial lifting of the economic sanctions reimposed in 2018 after the departure from the deal by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
But the Iranian mission noted that a revival of the deal “only requires a political decision by the US to fully and immediately implement all of its obligations.” The New York-based mission is headed by Majid Takht-Ravanchi, a key member of the Iranian team who negotiated the 2015 landmark accord with the world’s major powers.
In a similar reaction, an anonymous official source told Iran’s state-run Press TV that enrichment at such levels will be suspended only after all US sanctions are removed. Washington’s failure to do so, the source warned, will push Iran toward a “further reduction of its JCPOA commitments.”
What Tehran refers to as “commitment reduction” has been viewed by the Western signatories of the deal as worrisome “breaches” under the JCPOA. The process began in May 2018 and was particularly accelerated late last year following an Iranian parliamentary law on raising nuclear enrichment among other activities, which the JCPOA had severely restricted. Tehran says those steps are meant to push the other parties into honoring their obligations.
Merely throwing the ball into one another’s court, officials in Tehran and Washington have in recent months made little progress toward breaking the impasse. The Iranian government has persistently dismissed fresh negotiations but has promised that sanctions removal by the United States will trigger the quick and automatic Iranian compliance with the JCPOA.
The hard-line sectors across the Iranian political spectrum are resorting to an even less conciliatory rhetoric these days. Hossein Salami, who commands the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, declared March 30, “We stand inattentive to the sanctions. We don’t even need the JCPOA, either, as we press ahead … to make the country stronger day by day.”
It was not immediately clear how binding such statements were, but they were reflective of comments by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who maintains the final say in Iran’s foreign policy decisions.
In his March 21 remarks on the revival of the JCPOA, Khamenei appeared confident that there was no need for Iran to “hurry,” as he tightly grabbed on to his previous demands for complete US sanctions relief.