The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday that Washington has to extend the suspension of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions against, and stressed that a refusal to do so would constitute a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015. “Mr Trump is currently making loud statements; and it is not clear what decision he wants to take. [But] he has to suspend the sanctions statute once again on May 19,” said Ali Akbar Salehi. “If he doesn’t, an explicit non-performance of the JCPOA will have occurred; everyone agrees about that.” The Iranian official also emphasized that other parties to the nuclear agreement would not support unilateral American sanctions.
Comment: Salehi’s remarks were a reaction to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s announcement last week that the Trump administration was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran served U.S. national security interests. In a letter to Congress, Tillerson said Iran remained in compliance with the nuclear accord but added that the Islamic Republic continued to support terrorism and work on its controversial ballistic missile program.
Iran has said in the past that it will not renegotiate the terms of the nuclear deal. Last month, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that his government was “completely ready” to restart its nuclear program if the United States failed to adhere to the nuclear agreement. “If America reneges on the deal to the level that the continuation of the JCPOA harms our national interests, the Islamic Republic of Iran is completely ready to return to the pre-JCPOA situation and will be even stronger,” he was quoted by the state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency on Monday. “In the past two months, as a result of efforts and notable capabilities of our country’s nuclear scientists, we have been able to bring into operation the most advanced centrifuges that were only an idea at the time the J.C.P.O.A. was approved [July 2015].”
The Iranian foreign minister also credited Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani for devising the nuclear agreement in such a way that allows Iran to resume and accelerate its nuclear activities if the United States does not live up to its commitments as part of the accord.