JCPOA will survive if West adheres to commitments: Iran nuclear chief
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi says the survival of the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries depends on the resolve of the West.
“A panoramic view of the unfortunate global situation, and particularly our violence- and crisis-ridden region, tells us that we all need to foster a culture of adherence to commitments,” Salehi wrote in the Guardian daily published on Friday.
“In the absence of effective global governance, relying on this kind of culture would provide a workable basis for genuine engagement,” he added.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the mammoth agreement, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — in July 2015 and started implementing it in January 2016.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
US President Donald Trump has called the nuclear agreement “the worst deal ever negotiated” and vowed to “dismantle” the “disastrous” deal. However, he has not so far taken any concrete steps to scrap it.
The Iranian nuclear chief warned of “chaotic behavior by various actors and further tension and conflict” and said, “Disregard for Iran’s genuine security concerns, either through deliberate changing of the military-security balance in the region, or by stoking Iranophobia in the region and beyond, would jeopardize engagement.”
Salehi cautioned that all sides would “end up back at square one” and expressed regret that “as things stand at the moment in the region, reaching a new state of equilibrium may simply be beyond reach for the foreseeable future.”
He pointed to “a number of solid steps” taken by Iran toward a “constructive engagement aiming at common goals and objectives” and emphasized that such measures could be developed further by “genuine reciprocal gestures and actions.”
It has been a “mixed experience” for Iran to work to negotiate agreements with the West, particularly the US, he said, adding, “Often following hard-won engagement, some Western nations, whether distracted by short-sighted political motivations or the lucrative inducements of regional actors, walk away and allow the whole situation to return to the status quo ante.”
Salehi, who is also a vice-president, believed that concentrating on certain “guiding principles” would allow all actors to stay the course.
He referred to “security dilemma” as the first serious stumbling block to engagement between Iran and the West and said, “Pursuing military power beyond what is called for by actual security needs raises suspicions among others and risks destabilization.”
He said “lavish arms purchases” by some regional actors – a reference to the Saudi Arabia’s purchase of $110bn of US arms during President Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh – are “provocative.”
“This is especially the case if the national defense efforts of Iran – which are partly induced by this process – are simultaneously opposed and undermined. It would be unrealistic to expect Iran to remain indifferent to the destabilizing impact of such conduct,” Salehi pointed out.
He cited ideas such as the “clash of civilizations”, “Sunni-Shia conflict”, “Persian-Arab enmity” and the “Arab-Israeli axis against Iran” as examples of alternative realities fabricated for ulterior purposes.
The AEOI head further expressed confidence that in case of a serious commitment to the mentioned guiding principles, Iran and the P5+1 group of countries would see the expansion, deepening and institutionalization of mutually beneficial engagement.
“This would help promote the cause of regional and international peace and security,” he reiterated.
Salehi also urged all Iran’s interlocutors to “appreciate” and “act accordingly” to the message Iranians sent following the result of last month’s presidential election in the country.
He concluded, “Engagement is not a one-way street and we cannot go it alone.”