By Mahmoud Hakamian
The Iranian regime’s announcement this week that it would no longer comply with parts of the nuclear agreement in response to new U.S. sanctions has led to factional feuding within the regime.
The regime’s Channel II television station conducted an interview with the mullahs’ Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. One of the key subjects discussed was the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The interview centered on the recent statement by the Iranian regime’s Supreme National Security Council and announced by the mullahs’ President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday.
“Frankly saying, many people believe this is tantamount to ‘freeing a slave after he is dead,’” the commentator said while starting with an introduction discussing the developments of the past few weeks.
“They said they are going to bring Iran oil export to zero. They said they stopped giving waivers to eight countries that were allowed to import Iranian oil. We are now in a situation that politically, morally and internationally have given enough vantage to others. This decision by the Islamic Republic of Iran is not defying the JCPOA. It is a tool within the JCPOA to uphold the country’s interests,” the show began.
Commentator: Are we not exiting the JCPOA?
Araghchi: It does not mean we are exiting the JCPOA. It does not even mean that it is in breach of the JCPOA. When we reduce our commitments on the basis of article 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, we have the right to use these tools in order to secure our interests. This has been clearly stated.
Commentator: Based on the US-imposed sanctions on the nuclear issue, the purchase of uranium and heavy water was already banned, meaning that we could not sell these items anyway. When we now come out and say that we are going to stop selling these items, which we actually were barred from selling, and we say we are going to stockpile them from now on, would you not say that it would not have a real effect on our counterparts?
Araghchi: Yes, exactly.
Commentator: I mean, we cannot sell them due to sanctions?
Araghchi: The important point is not the ability to sell these productions. The important point is we are going to stockpile it. The concern of the West about Iran’s nuclear program was the amount of enriched uranium in Iran.
Commentator: Frankly saying, many believe that we are “freeing a dead slave.”
Araghchi: No, no, no. Actually, I am trying to clear out this point. This is a misunderstanding. Those who say that are looking at it from a wrong perspective. The important thing in the JCPOA or Iran’s nuclear program is the amount of our stockpile in Iran, meaning how much enriched uranium or heavy water do we have in our stock. This is a key element. According to the JCPOA, Iran can keep 130 tons of heavy water and sell anything over that amount. We could keep 300 kilograms of enriched uranium and should sell the excess amount. If we can’t sell the excess amounts, what happens? According to the JCPOA, we must stop production after we have reached these amounts. Americans are playing a game saying no one is allowed to buy, so Iran is forced to stop the production. What we are saying now is that not only are we not stopping our production, but we are also not bound by any limitations, and we don’t limit ourselves to any restrictions.
Translation taken from the website of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK).