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Israel, Saudi Arabia, US will continue exerting pressure on Iran, Russian expert says

Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program exacerbated after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the deal on May 8, 2018 and slapped US economic sanctions on Iran’s oil exports

MOSCOW, July 8. /TASS/. Pressure on Iran from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States will continue, a Russian expert said on Monday, commenting on the situation around the Iranian nuclear deal.

"Indeed, we can expect that unfair pressure on Teheran from the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia will continued," Marianna Bakonina of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies told TASS. "[Israeli Foreign Minister] Israel Katz has warned that his country would deliver preemptive air strikes at Iranian nuclear facilities. US National Security Advizer John Bolton said that Iran was unlikely to have ever been implementing the agreement although the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] has been confirming Iran’s commitment to the document over all this time."

Anticipating further developments, Bakonina drew attention to the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iran in February 2020. "Now, power is held by reformists. Conservatives who have always been against the nuclear deal saying that Iran would have nothing from it, now have perfect trump cards," she noted. "Now they can tell the entire country: we have the deal but we have no benefits from it. It will be another factor not in favor of keeping the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions] in place."

According to the expert, despite the fact that Iran has surpassed the uranium enrichment limit, it is ready to return to the deal if the United Kingdom, France and Germany fulfil their commitments. "If the INSTEX mechanism [of settlements with Iran bypassing US sanctions] is operational and Iran can export oil and receive revenues, the Iranian side will get back to the deal," she explained. "If not, the Iranian side will scale down their commitments step by step. Iran is more interested in revenues from oil trade than in investments or technologies."

On July 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had surpassed the 3.67% uranium enrichment limit envisioned by the Iranian nuclear deal. On July 1, it said that Iran had exceeded the 300kg limit of low-enriched uranium stockpiles. The IAEA Board of Governors will meet on July 10 to discuss the situation around the Iranian nuclear dossier. The meeting was requested by the United States’ mission to the Vienna-based international organizations, which insists the international community bring to responsibility the Iranian authorities following these steps.

Situation around JCPOA

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 of 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, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced that Tehran sought to preserve the nuclear deal and its latest steps were aimed at encouraging European partners to meet their commitments. The senior diplomat voiced hope that in the coming 60 days, Iran would manage to achieve agreements with the Europeans on preserving the JCPOA. Otherwise, Iran would keep scaling down its commitments under the deal.