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Solution over nuclear deal with Iran may be achieved within months, Russian envoy says

According to Mikhail Ulyanov, Tehran in early November will most likely take a fourth step to reduce its commitments

MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. A positive solution for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action dispute may be achieved within months, or else the situation will continue to get worse, Russia’s representative at international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, told a news conference on Friday.

"Possibly we will achieve some positive solution [concerning the JCPOA] over several months to come, or else the situation will continue to get worse," Ulyanov said.

He recalled that tensions had soared after the United States on May 4 introduced a new package of sanctions against Iran’s oil industry. Ulyanov believes that if Washington agrees to get back to the level of sanctions that existed at the end of April, the situation might improve considerably.

"The United States is not prepared for this, though. It prefers to stick to a policy of exerting the maximum pressure," Ulyanov said, adding that senseless moves by the US authorities, such as personal sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei narrowed the room for diplomatic maneuver.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is capable of verifying compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) effectively enough, so questions about Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons are totally irrelevant for now, Ulyanov, told a news conference.

According to Ulyanov, Tehran in early November will most likely take a fourth step to reduce its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian nuclear program.

"As far as the steps [to reduce commitments] Iran has taken so far are concerned, we react to them without enthusiasm, but with understanding. For a whole year following the United States’ pullout from the deal Iran patiently complied with everything 100% IAEA reports confirmed that. When the US at the beginning of May set course towards a total oil embargo, Iran said at once that the step was going too far and it would no longer tolerate this," Ulyanov said. "In retaliation it was announced officially and transparently that Iran will be reducing compliance with its JCPOA commitments every two months."

Ulyanov pointed out that Tehran has kept its promise.

"At the beginning of September it took a third step involving the installation of centrifuges and research and development works. With a high degree of probability one may expect that a fourth step will follow in early November," the Russian envoy said. "And it will proceed like this until the moment Iran gets what it wants, in other words, the restoration of the balance within the framework of the nuclear deal between nuclear and economic commitments. This balance is now totally upset as a result of obstructionist policies by the overseas partners."

"The way I see it, questions about Iran’s ability to make nuclear arms are absolutely irrelevant," Ulyanov said. "The IAEA is capable of carrying out very intrusive, very deep verification, the more so since under the JCPOA Iran voluntarily agreed to use the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. In our opinion, on the basis of the existing protocol the agency is quite capable of preventing any deviation from NPT provisions."

Iran and the permanent UN Security Council members (Russia, Britain, China, the United States and France) and also Germany in 2015 formulated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that restricted Tehran’s nuclear research in exchange for the lifting of UN sanctions and unilateral US restrictions. Iran pledged to refrain from enriching uranium to above the 3.67% limit, keep the amount of enriched uranium in stock under 300 kilograms, build no new heavy water reactors, and refrain from accumulating heavy water or developing nuclear bombs.

In May 2018, the United States declared its pullout from the nuclear deal and imposed economic sanctions on Iran. One year later, on May 8, 2019 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Tehran was suspending part of its nuclear deal obligations. By now the Iranian authorities have begun the third phase of reducing their nuclear deal commitments.

On September 6, Tehran said it had launched a third phase to reduce compliance with the nuclear deal and suspended restrictions on nuclear research. The International Atomic Energy Agency on September 8 said the Iranian authorities had announced the resumption of research work and the development of new centrifuges. Last week saw reports Tehran was working on measures for the fourth stage of downgrading compliance with JCPOA.