By Jubin Katiraie
On September 21, the UN sanctions were reimposed on the Iranian government based on an appeal provided by the United States as one of the signatories of UN Security Council resolution 2231. Initially, Iranian authorities, including President Hassan Rouhani, expressed their joy about European officials’ objection to the move. However, their happiness did not last long.
On July 20, 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2231, endorsing the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran benefited billions of dollars in credit and cash as economic relief in return for stopping its nuclear activities. The deal was also considered a foundation for further negotiations over controversial topics such as the Iranian government’s malign behavior in the Middle East and provocative ballistic missile program.
Iran was violating the 150 Billion Dollar (plus 1.8 Billion Dollar in CASH) Nuclear Deal with the United States, and others who paid NOTHING, long before I became President – and they have now breached their stockpile limit. Not good!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
At the time, Iranian authorities claimed that they had cemented the core of the Arak heavy water facility and repurposed the Natanz uranium enrichment site to a research center. Notably, the Iranian government had denied the existence of both locations before the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed them and other suspect activities by Tehran toward obtaining nuclear weapons in 2002.
However, the ayatollahs deceived the international community and continued their activities despite signing the accord and receiving reliefs. In July 2019, Hassan Rouhani officially announced that his government would not obey the terms of the agreement anymore and will surpass restrictions as much as needed. Simultaneously, Iran suspended the UN Atomic Watchdog’s access to two controversial sites and accused an inspector of espionage.
Previously, on January 22, 2019, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi openly admitted to breaching Iran’s obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. “The leader [Khamenei] warned us that they were violators of agreements… There are tubes where the fuel goes. We had bought similar tubes, but I could not declare this at the time,” said Salehi in an interview with the TV Channel Four.
“When they told us to pour cement into the tubes… we said: ‘Fine. We will pour.’ But we did not tell them that we had other tubes. Otherwise, they would have told us to pour cement into those tubes as well. Now we have the same tubes,” he added.
Now, Tehran seemingly pays the price of its treacherous behavior and atomic ambitions. In this respect, triggering the dispute mechanism (snapback), which automatically restores all suspended UNSC resolutions, has placed the Iranian government in a dangerous position.
The reimposition of international sanctions on the Iranian government takes place while the country is experiencing a heavy economic crisis. In such circumstances, the oil price has dropped, the national currency has been sharply devalued, the coronavirus outbreak has deteriorated financial power, and systematic corruption, embezzlement, inflation, and high-prices have almost waned the country’s economic sector.
In this context, Iranian officials sound alarms about the dire conditions and potential risks. “Walking away from the JCPOA and NPT—if it was necessary—would seize the opportunity of using the snapback mechanism from the U.S. and Europe. Unilaterally remaining in the JCPOA gives the enemy this chance to raise the case in the UNSC based on articles 36 and 37, and paragraphs 10 and 11 of resolution 2231. With Russia and China deprived of their veto right, the snapback would all we get from the JCPOA,” said Ebrahim Karkhanei, former Chairman of the Parliament (Majlis) Nuclear Committee, in an interview with Keyhan daily on September 21.
On the other hand, Parviz Sorouri, former MP, warned about remaining in the JCPOA and reckoned that the European states and the U.S. follow a similar roadmap. “Europe and the U.S. pursue a common goal in a strategic plot against the state’s red lines. It is ‘limiting the country’s defense-regional power.’ Europeans believe that a half-dead, spent, and ineffective JCPOA is better than a dead deal,” Hemayat Online website quoted him as saying on the same day.
Also, Foad Izadi, a close analyst to the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, rejected Rouhani’s claims about the JCPOA’s achievements. “We have no extended nuclear abilities. Five years ago, we handed over ten tons of enriched uranium due to the JCPOA. We had Arak, Fordu, and Natanz [facilities], and 19,000 centrifuges. What do we want to receive with three tons of uranium?” he wrote in a piece in Resalat daily on September 21.
Resalat daily also mocked Rouhani’s claims about Europe’s objection to the U.S. reimposition of sanction: “It is impossible to fill your pocket with an insignificant objection by Europeans and the UNSC and praise it as a victory. It is right that Europeans did not trigger the dispute; however, they previously set their guns on barrage status against us.”
The snapback sanctions affected the Iranian bankrupt economy in an unprecedented way. For instance, Tehran Stock Market (STM) lost over 57,000 units in two days alone. An Iranian economic media reported that “the stock market experienced a dramatic fall” and added “stock markets have been shut down and the scale of trade has significantly dropped,” according to Tejarat [business] News website on September 21.
Iranian authorities have realized the impact of snapback despite their ridiculous remarks and congratulations. They hoped the U.S. presidential elections would rescue them from their terrible condition. However, the reimposition of sanctions has pushed Iran’s economy to the point of no return. Today, the government faces not only a sharp decline in exporting crude oil and condensate but also deals recession in all aspects of financial activities.
These parameters will create a hyper social crisis, paving the path for the fed-up people to flood into the streets once again and clearly demonstrate their rage and fury against the corrupt ruling system. In this respect, the ayatollahs do not hide their concerns and frequently warn each other over upcoming protests. They openly say that “we face a volatile society,” and the “Nitrate of Disappointment” awaits us.