0614 GMT January 16, 2021
The strategic action plan, recently approved by the Iranian Parliament in an effort to counteract US sanctions, is a good support for the government, increasing its bargaining power in the face of the US and Western countries, said an MP.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Mohammad-Hassan Asafari added the plan will help the government safeguard Iranian people’s rights in negotiations with the US and Western states.
In an open session on December 1, lawmakers at the Iranian Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed the outlines of the strategic action plan to counteract US sanctions and safeguard Tehran’s interests.
The outlines of the plan’s draft bill were approved by 251 votes in favor, out of a total of 260. Later, the plan was also approved by the Guardian Council and notified to the government by Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
The plan requires the Iranian administration to suspend more commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015.
Asafari said the action plan is a warning to the US and Western countries reminding them that if they do not return to the JCPOA and fail to fulfill their commitments under the deal regarding the removal of the sanctions, the Islamic Republic will definitely and reciprocally make decisions that would not be in their interests, including the resumption of uranium enrichment and operations at nuclear sites.
Signed between Iran and six major world powers, namely, the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, under the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231 in July 2015, the JCPOA helped lift UN sanctions on Tehran.
However, in a much anticipated turn of events, the US withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 under an executive order by President Donald Trump and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
A harsh critic of the deal even prior to his entry into the White House in 2016, Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA and reinstated the sanctions on Iran as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign against the country aiming to bring Tehran to the negotiating table to work out a new agreement.
Still in place, the unilateral sanctions, the most draconian of all time, have mainly targeted Iranian oil and banking sectors in a bid to cripple the country’s economy. They have, however, proved ineffective thanks to Iranian people’s resilience over the past three years.
Disappointed at the European parties’ inaction and passivity and their incapability to fulfill their JCPOA commitments in the aftermath of US pullout, Iran placed on its agenda a phased reduction of its obligations under the deal. In January 2020, the Islamic Republic took the last step toward reducing its JCPOA commitments and announced that it would no longer accept any limitations on its nuclear activities.
Tehran has, however, frequently announced that it would reverse its steps if the other parties to the deal fulfill their commitments according to the agreement.
The strategic action plan, among other things, requires the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to produce at least 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium annually and store it inside the country within two months after the adoption of the law.
The plan also includes a provision requiring the Rouhani administration to suspend inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if the European parties to the deal keep failing to fulfill their obligation to facilitate Iran’s access to world banking and oil markets within a month.
Calling on the Rouhani administration to, on the back of the action plan, urge the Western sides to implement the JCPOA, Asafari said the action plan will be a solution and support for the government to protect the Islamic Republic’s legitimate rights and oblige, either through negotiations or pursuing the case in international courts, the European sides to fulfill their commitments under the deal.
He added under the JCPOA, the Western sides were expected to lift the EU, US Congress and UNSC sanctions; but no move has been made to these ends.
On the reason for the Iranian Parliament’s increased momentum in approving the strategic action plan and whether the move is related to recent developments in the US, the MP said, “The clauses of the plan had been approved four months ago. However, the reason why its adoption was accelerated under the present circumstances was the martyrdom of prominent Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.”
Fakhrizadeh, the head of the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, was targeted in a multi-pronged terrorist attack by a number of assailants in Absard town of Tehran Province’s Damavand County on November 27.
Asafari said at times, Israel managed to gain access to Iranian nuclear scientists’ information obtained by the IAEA in its inspections of the country’s nuclear sites and facilities and used it to commit acts of terror, stressing that, therefore, the Parliament’s increased pace for approving the plan had nothing to do with Trump’s defeat or Joe Biden’s victory in US November 3 presidential elections.
Commenting on Western state’ interference in Iran’s internal affairs with regard to the December 12 execution of Rouhollah Zam, the administrator of a notorious counterrevolutionary website convicted of corruption on earth, he noted that the death sentence was issued by Iran’s Judiciary based on authentic and credible documents.
However, Europeans’ interference in the issue attested to the veracity of the sentence, the lawmaker stressed.
“Why didn’t the Europeans react to Fakhrizadeh’s assassination or the martyrdom of dozens of our people by the anti-Iran terrorist group Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO)? Moreover, France supported the organization and helped them set up a base in the country.”
He added, “When Israel adopts a stance toward Zam’s execution, it shows that they see some interests for themselves in this issue. Thus, the behavior displayed by the Western sides toward the issue is not acceptable at all and is tantamount to interference in the Islamic Republic’s internal affairs. We do not allow them to meddle in [the enforcement] our rules."
Slamming Germany and France for supporting Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iraqi-imposed war (1980-88) on Iran, the MP said these countries should be held accountable for supplying chemical weapons to the Iraqi regime and Saddam’s use of the armaments against the Islamic Republic, as the chemical attacks martyred close to 100,000 Iranians.
Turning to an increase in the share of Iran’s defense sector in the budget bill for the next calendar year, which will start in March 2021, he noted that the country’s greater defensive power will help increase its bargaining power and national security and prevent invasions by other states.
Lauding the capabilities of Iran’s Armed Forces, Asafari said the country has very good conditions in terms of its deterrence power and no state can carry out military operations against the Islamic Republic through land, air or sea.