President Joe Biden’s administration should learn lessons from the former US government’s failed policies against Iran and, by lifting the sanctions on Tehran, return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and fulfill its commitments under the deal, said a lawmaker.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Shahriar Heidari, vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, added the policies of withdrawing from the JCPOA and launching a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, adopted by former US president Donald Trump, ended in failure.
The JCPOA was signed between Iran and six major world powers, namely, the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, in July 2015.
However, in a much anticipated turn of events, the US withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 under an executive order by Trump and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The sanctions were part of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran 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, however, proved ineffective thanks to Iranian people’s resilience over the past three years.
Heidari noted that, through mounting maximum resistance, the Islamic Republic of Iran stood against Washington’s sanctions policies, preventing Trump from achieving his goals.
The lawmaker said Iran took all the required measures to make its nuclear program and activities appropriately transparent.
He, however, regretted that the US withdrawal caused tensions in relations among the deal’s signatories.
Heidari said Iran started 20 percent uranium enrichment based on the Strategic Action Plan, approved by the Iranian Parliament in an effort to counteract US sanctions, and will implement other clauses of the plan according to the schedule.
If the US lifts the sanctions and begin implementing the JCPOA, Iran will reverse its steps.
In an open session on December 1, lawmakers at the Iranian Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed the outlines of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions within the JCPOA framework.
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 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.
The third clause of the plan requires the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the AEOI to use the newer generation of IRM2 and IRM6 centrifuges.
Executing the plan is a strategic and infrastructural measure for the Islamic Republic of Iran, Heidari said, stressing that now is the time to implement the JCPOA and any procrastination to this end would be a wrong move.
Iran’s informs the International Atomic Energy Agency of its decision to enrich uranium up to 20 percent, he added, underlining that Tehran informs the IAEA of any measure it takes within the framework of its peaceful nuclear program and has not made any diversion in using the nuclear science.
“We only seek to make conventional use of the nuclear science and technology.”
Commenting on the appointment of Robert Malley as special envoy for Iran by Biden, the lawmaker said unlike Republicans who adopt the policy of opposing Iran, Democrats normally seek to negotiate with the Islamic Republic.
“Malley’s appointment was a natural and anticipated decision as he was among the members of the US negotiating team during the nuclear talks in the administration of then president, Barack Obama.”
He is quite familiar with Iran’s stances toward the JCPOA, the MP said.
Heidari stressed that, however, Malley did not adopt good stances toward Iran at that time, expressing hope that he has learned his lessons by looking at the Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and pursues more rational policies toward Tehran within the framework of the nuclear talks.
Asked about the visits by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Russia and a number of Caucasus countries within the past few days, the MP said the trips were aimed at ensuring security in the region, strengthening ties and expanding economic relations given the visited states’ significant role in regional developments.
He added the Islamic Republic of Iran has always pursued a policy of developing diplomatic relations with other countries, primarily the friendly and neighboring states.
“We also prioritize expanding relations with countries seeking to forge friendly ties with us.”
Nevertheless, given the developments in the Caucasus region during the past few months in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a number of transregional countries, including the US, meddled in the regional issues, Heidari said.
Israel’s presence was what exacerbated the situation, he noted, adding the Zionist regime’s presence in the region is not justified at all and solely aimed at undermining regional security and creating tensions among regional states.
The MP said Tehran has always had close and cordial relations with Yerevan and Baku, describing Armenia and Azerbaijan as Iran’s good neighbors.
Israel’s presence in Iran’s neighborhood has created some tensions and, thus, it was necessary for the foreign minister to take the trips, Heidari added.
“We are strongly against the Zionist regime’s presence in the region and voice our concerns regarding the issue.”