“The new [U.S.] administration has spoken out on almost every issue in U.S. foreign policy except the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the need to return to it, while Democrats and Republicans have been vocal about maintaining Donald Trump’s policy of maximum pressure on the Biden administration,” wrote Javan daily affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on January 28, 2021.
These days, it is not too surprising to find such a paragraph in one of the newspapers and media affiliated with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei.
It seems that the staff writers of this faction expected that the ‘Great Satan’ repent of past wrongdoings and lift sanctions overnight. They complain about why the new U.S. administration talked about everything, except its re-entry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known by the acronyms JCPOA. It is interesting that the U.S. is not in a hurry in this case.
“Apparently there is no rush on the other side, in the Biden government. In his first phone call with Vladimir Putin, Biden spoke of issues such as Ukraine, Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2020 election, and the extension of the treaties but did not say anything about the JCPOA or did not want it to be disclosed,” Javan wrote.
Haste to Return to the JCPOA
In this situation, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations, is constantly forced to call for haste. “Hey! ‘The window of the JCPOA is closing’, hurry up!” he threatened the European States and the new U.S. government.
What is this rush for? Did not the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei say just 20 days earlier that, “We have no urge, no rush for America to return to the JCPOA. Our problem is not whether the United States will return to the JCPOA or not. Our rational demand and our rational demand is the lifting of sanctions,” Khamenei’s official website Khamenei.ir wrote on January 8, 2021.
It is at this point that the sanctions are squeezing the throat of the clerical dictatorship, and even an hour’s continuation is an hour for the life of this government.
Request to Maintain Maximum Pressure
Despite Tehran’s haste to lift sanctions, the other side is in no hurry. Not only is he in no hurry, but according to Javan, “Dennis Ross, Barack Obama’s adviser on the West Asian region, and Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser to the administration of George W. Bush, in a joint note, called for Washington to maintain maximum pressure against Tehran.”
“They [Dennis Ross and Juan Zarate], referring to Iran’s decision to resume 20 percent uranium enrichment, claimed that this was not done to force the United States to hasten a return to the nuclear deal, but because Iran wanted to lift sanctions. Of course, Iran should not be able to reduce sanctions for free,” the daily added.
Threat with an Empty Gun
In addition to rushing to return to the JCPOA, Iran’s theocracy thinks that it can intimidate and hold the other side for ransom by using an empty gun by threatening, blackmailing, and striking a deadline.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that “he was forced to implement the resolution of the regime’s parliament.”
“The parliament has approved a resolution according to which we are obliged to take some measures. One was the 20 percent enrichment that had begun, and the other was the end of the implementation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Additional Protocol, which must be operational from February 21 to 23, and we are required by law to do so,” Vatan-e-Emrooz quoted Zarif as saying on January 27.
Consequences of Withdrawing from the NPT’s Additional Protocol
Former diplomat Fereydoun Majlisi reacted to Zarif’s claim a day later. “Regarding the withdrawal from the Additional Protocol, as well as the 20 percent enrichment, and basically the approval of the parliament, the question is, what effect did the five steps of reducing Iran’s nuclear obligations have on the European positions that are now being discussed?” Majlisi said in an interview with Arman-e Mali daily on January 28.
“After the withdrawal from the Additional Protocol, the sanctions would remain in place, and such actions can only intensify them or cause the return of the previous six [UN] sanctions resolutions, because these sanctions were not lifted, but have been suspended,” he added.
Given this, it is clear that the Islamic Republic’s rush to lift sanctions and resort to an empty gun for ransom will not go anywhere, while these days in the positions of various U.S. and European officials, the international community insists on a stricter agreement on nuclear restraint of the world’s number 1 state-sponsor of terrorism.
Yes, the JCPOA window is closing; but the question is in which direction?