Speaking at the European Policy Centre think tank, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Time is running out for the U.S. to revive the nuclear deal.” This is while Iran is the party deliberately appealing for sanctions relief and generous privileges afforded to his government under the Iran 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), due to its horrible economic conditions.
“The Europeans are used to compromise. Iran and the United States are not. The Americans are used to imposing, and we are used to resisting. So now is the time to decide will we both compromise and go back to the JCPOA, or will we go back to our own paths?” Zarif said.
The Foreign Minister did not mention what Iran’s own path is. However, Tehran’s recent decisions over enriching uranium to 20 percent concentration, stockpiling uranium more than 14 times over the limit set in the 2015 deal, and restricting the UN nuclear watchdog are strong indicators of the ayatollahs’ destination.
Furthermore, the Iranian government began producing uranium metal—material that can be used to form the core of a nuclear weapon—since February 10.
In an interview with state TV Channel Two on February 8, Iran’s Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Mahmoud Alavi issued a warning about Tehran’s probable intention to produce nuclear weapons. “In his Fatwa, the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] announced that the production of nuclear weapons is Haram [forbidden]… However, if [foreigners] pushed Iran to that path, then [the production of nuclear weapons] is not Iran’s fault,” he said.
All these facts display Iran has been placed in an awkward position due to international sanctions and isolation. The ayatollahs hoped that the new U.S. administration would hastily rejoin the JCPOA, lift the sanctions, and afford uncountable privileges once again. In this context, they even resorted to nuclear extortion to drive U.S. President Joe Biden to their desired path.
However, contrary to their preliminary assessments, times have changed, and U.S. officials have clearly announced that they would never feed crocodiles for nothing. Instead, they planned to sign a longer and more comprehensive deal, which excessively restricts Tehran’s malign behaviors in the Middle East and stops the government’s provocative ballistic missile programs.
Therefore, the U.S. is not enthusiastic to ink a deal with President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, which will remain in power for no longer than six months. This means that the Iranian government should endure current pressure at least until the 2021 Presidential election in June.
On the other hand, Khamenei has frequently announced his objection to making a new deal with the U.S. According to recent developments and state-run media reports and analyses, loyalists to Khamenei and JCPOA critics, who constantly called on the government to leave the deal, will establish the next administration in Iran. This is another serious dilemma preventing the U.S. from stepping in a foggy path.
Furthermore, in an interview with Axios released on March 10, the State Department’s Iran envoy Rob Malley declared that “U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will not rush to renew the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal with Iran before the latter’s June elections which are widely expected to see a rise of a more hardline president in Tehran.”
“We don’t intend to base the pace of our discussions on the Iranian elections – the pace will be determined by how far we can get, consistent with defending U.S. national security interests,” Malley added.
In this respect, Tehran’s recent steps of extortion likely gained inverted consequences for the government. In other words, the international community realized the ayatollahs’ severe need for making a deal due to their back-breaking financial pressure.
In such circumstances, major powers look for restricting the world’s number one state-sponsor of terrorism and preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons rather than offering concessions, which put global peace and security in jeopardy. Tehran’s recent nuclear ambitions have led the country to more restrictions and raised the risk of the ayatollahs’ achieving atomic weapons more than ever before.