A little while ago, I mentioned that Iran has some options for decreasing implementation of its JCPOA commitments:
Tehran’s been re-visiting its playbook from 2005 and 2006 when, shortly after the election of President Ahmadinejad, the government gradually resumed nuclear activities that it had suspended pursuant to Iran’s 2003 and 2004 agreements with the E3. During that time, Iran also stopped implementing its additional protocol and other transparency measures contained in the aforementioned agreements with the E3. The point is that, although Iran has been complying with all of its JCPOA-related monitoring and inspection requirements, there is precedent for Tehran to decrease such compliance.
Remember, Iran’s 5 January announcement described its latest JCPOA decision as “the final step to reduce [the government’s] commitments” to the agreement. I thought that the adjective “final” might mean that Iran would leave IAEA monitoring and inspection provisions in place while perhaps taking actions like producing LEU containing ever-increasing amounts of U-235. The tolerance of Iran’s political system for such monitoring/inspections may be greater than in the past. For one thing, the AEOI, which runs the nuclear program and is Tehran’s interlocutor with the IAEA, has had several years to become accustomed to the most recent monitoring/inspections. Also, if Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, or aspirations for such a program, then the political system may well not much care about the above-mentioned provisions.
But a pair of statements from Foreign Minister Zarif, at least for me, confused the matter somewhat. According to one from IRNA, the minister stated that Tehran would take no more steps to decrease its observation of JCPOA-mandated limits on its nuclear program:
the country’s five steps in compliance reduction would have no similar follow-ups, but Europeans’ measure to refer the case to the United Nations Security Council may be followed by Tehran’s decision to leave NPT as stated in President Hassan Rouhani’s May 2018 letter to other parties to the deal.
But I think one can reasonably interpret this Fars News statement as an indication that Iran may well be planning for a such a follow-up step:
“Iran is designing a new and more effective step that will be taken before leaving NPT in case the Europeans do not fulfill their responsibilities to the deal and continue their claims,” he [Zarif] highlighted.
This IRNA article dated January 22 seems to describe Zarif’s position similarly:
If the case is referred to the UN Security Council, the idea of withdrawing from the NPT would be brought up, but before that, other plans could be placed on the agenda, Zarif said earlier on Monday after attending a parliamentary hearing.
Regardless, cages are surely rattling and I want a transcript of what Zarif said.