US accuses Iran of moving "in wrong direction" on nuclear deal

The latest IAEA report notes an increase in uranium enrichment in Iran and the discovery of the chemical element at a new facility
US President Joe Biden

PHOTO/REUTERS  -   US President Joe Biden

The Biden administration has reprimanded Iran for breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal on the grounds that the regime in Tehran is "moving in the wrong direction". "Our objective in all of this remains to seek an outcome in which Iran and the United States resume compliance with their commitments under the JCPOA," US Department spokesman Ned Price told a news conference.  

The spokesman called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to clarify the agency's latest report, which reports an increase in uranium enrichment in the country and the discovery of the chemical element at a new facility. In the same vein, Price argued that "the most sustainable, the most effective way to place limits, verifiable and permanent limits on Iran’s nuclear program, is through a negotiated solution to this".  

"If Iran resumes its full compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States will be prepared to do the same," the spokesman said. He also admitted "that is a necessary but not sufficient step", as Washington would also like to negotiate "follow-on agreements to address other areas of Iran’s malign influence, including its ballistic missile program".

El portavoz del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos, Ned Price
REUTERS/CARLOS BERRIA - U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price

The Biden administration reached out to Iran to begin the process of rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal last week. The Democrat assumed the presidency with the task of reversing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and to address relations with Iran diplomatically. The withdrawal from the agreement, abandoned by Trump in 2018, allowed the Tehran regime to move forward with its nuclear project.  

The US State Department said last week that it would "discuss the best way forward with respect to Iran's nuclear programme" and that the goal is to "open the way to try to get back to a situation where the United States and Iran are again in compliance with the nuclear agreement". 

The ayatollahs' regime, however, maintains the hard line. The Persian authorities have stopped unannounced IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities and threatened to increase uranium enrichment. Iranian proxy forces have even reportedly fired rockets at US bases in Iraq, according to an internal US investigation.  

Mapa de Irán con las principales instalaciones nucleares
AFP/AFP - Map of Iran with main nuclear facilities

The main challenge, however, is to curb Iran's nuclear plan. The latest IAEA report notes that Iran produced 15 kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium in the last month, a purity level that exceeds the 3.67 limit set by the agreement. However, the purity required for military activities is 90 per cent.   

Iran recently passed a law providing for the start of uranium enrichment to 20 per cent at a rate of 10 kg per month. However, the figure found by the IAEA exceeds the very target set by the Persian legislation, and Iran currently has 2,967.8 kg of enriched uranium, ten times more than what was initially allowed under the 2015 international agreement. The international body detected that Tehran has increased the number of equipment intended to produce enriched uranium, and suspects that the country develops the material in clandestine areas.

Tehran's maxim is the lifting of sanctions imposed by Trump, which poses a challenge to the Biden administration and its E3 partners - Britain, France and Germany. “However much they believe the U.S. should lift sanctions first, that’s not going to happen,” a U.S. official told Reuters.  

El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Irán, Mohammad Javad Zarif (izquierda), se reúne con el director general del Organismo Internacional de Energía Atómica, Rafael Grossi (derecha), en Teherán, Irán, el 21 de febrero de 2021
WANA/MAJID ASGARIPOUR - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi (R) in Tehran, Iran, 21 February 2021.
Tehran solidifies its position

Ambassador Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh said addressing the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament that it is up to the United States to make the first move in saving the Iran nuclear deal. Addressing the Western officials, he added asking Iran to remain committed to its commitments is not only unjust, perverted, and irresponsible, but it also shows an arrogant and coercive approach.

"It is ridiculous that you are asking Iran to return to the JCPOA with full commitment while you are still outside the agreement and you are grossly violating it," Hamaneh responded to State Department Secretary Antony Blinken's pleas. "The Europeans are not only appeasing the main violator but also not fulfilling their obligations," he added.

El embajador y representante permanente de la República Islámica de Irán ante la Oficina de la ONU en Ginebra, Ismail Baghaei Hamaneh
PHOTO/IRNA - The Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN Office in Geneva, Ismail Baghaei Hamaneh, has been in Geneva for more than a year.

Hamaneh underlined that Iran is tired of the other parties' speeches and now urges them to merely act and fulfill commitments. Hamaneh noted that Iran is a victim of weapons of mass destruction that continues to suffer from Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons wounds. 

"The only guarantee to prevent the use of such weapons is their complete and irreversible destruction by the countries using and having these weapons," he said in remarks carried by the state-run Mehr news agency. He accused America and its Western allies of supporting the Zionist regime and equipping it with nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani has reiterated that "the new U.S. administration must immediately halt the economic terrorism operation. Once it does so, there will be a path forward. Then, we can negotiate."