MOSCOW, November 6. /TASS/. The critical statement put forward by the US State Department in light of Iran’s decision to enrich uranium up to 5% at the Fordow facility is an example of complete political irresponsibility, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house) Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Wednesday.
"The US State Department described the Iranian decision to start enriching uranium to 5% at Fordow as 'a big step in the wrong direction.' Such a statement is utterly irresponsible politically speaking. This 'wrong direction' was set directly by Washington’s pullout from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — TASS]," Slutsky stressed, adding that "the US that grossly violated the UN Security Council resolution will bear full responsibility for a possible collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal."
According to him, Tehran’s actions clearly demonstrate that the policy of maximum pressure advanced by the US is not working. "Being a permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the parties to the deal, Russia is naturally concerned by these developments. We remain committed to fully implementing the JCPOA by all parties to it. But as yet, firstly, there are assurances that all actions taken by Tehran are reversible and, secondly, these new activities are supervised by the IAEA," Slutsky continued.
The MP underlined that "European partners have two more months to avert a possible collapse of the Iranian deal." "To this end, the EU at least needs to not only vociferously call on Iran to return into compliance with its obligations, but also launch a financial mechanism of offsetting losses inflicted by the re-imposed US sanctions," he concluded.
Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program exacerbated after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018 and slapped US economic sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. A year later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran was scaling back some of its commitments under the JCPOA and called on other signatories to the deal to comply with the conditions of the agreement within two months. The JCPOA was signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Russia, the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France) and Germany in 2015. Under the deal, Iran undertook to curb its nuclear activities and place them under total control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange for abandonment of the sanctions imposed previously by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the United States over its nuclear program.
Iran pledged not to enrich uranium above the level of 3.67% for 15 years and maintain enriched uranium stockpiles at the level not exceeding 300 kg, as well as not to build new heavy-water reactors, not to accumulate heavy water and not to develop nuclear explosive devices.
On July 7, Tehran proceeded to the second stage of scaling down its commitments and announced it had exceeded the 3.67%-level of uranium enrichment. More to it, it promised to keep on reducing its commitments every 60 days unless other participants restored compliance. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on July 1 and July 8 that Iran had exceeded the 300 kg limit set for its stockpiles of low enriched uranium and had exceeded the 3.67% enrichment threshold.
On September 6, Tehran launched the first step of scaling back on its commitments to the nuclear deal, which meant that the country refused to observe the restrictions placed on nuclear research. The Iranian side claimed that the actions were prompted by the European parties not observing their obligations. On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced further steps away from its JCPOA commitments on November 6 by launching centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility.
In accordance with the JCPOA signed in 2015, Iran was supposed to modernize the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant under international observers’ supervision. The envisioned modernization was supposed to make this facility impossible to be used for military purposes.