Iran gives Europe sixty days to step up to demands

Full-court press by Iranian diplomats seeks to sell its new threats internally and externally.

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005 (photo credit: RAHEB HOMAVANDI/REUTERS)
A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005
Iranian media reported on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic was increasingly seeking to pressure European countries to come to terms with Tehran’s demands under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or ‘Iran Nuclear Deal.’ Effectively Iran is saying that it is monitoring European actions over the next 60 days and that it is time for European countries to “fulfill their commitments” or Iran’s behavior could become “unpredictable.” Iran announced this week a partial withdrawal from the deal.
In an interview with ISNA Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini discussed a recent statement from the Supreme National Security Council about Iran’s upcoming actions. He indicated that not only the US had walked away from the deal but that other western states were not upholding their end of the bargain. He termed it a failure of European countries to live up to their side of the agreement. Nahghazi-Hosseini is a conservative politician in the parliament. “We will monitor European actions within 60 days,” he said.
Iranian media present the decision of Iran to begin preparations for a greater withdrawal from the deal as a way to pressure not only Europe but also other countries to come to terms with Tehran. The concept is to create a cleavage between the western powers and other states such as Russia, Turkey and China, and get those countries to also pressure Europe to do more for Iran. It is a complex game of chess combined with setting in motion a potential crises over the summer. Mehr News says that the recent comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are raising eyebrows in the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.
On May 8 Rouhani said that “starting today, Iran does not keep its enriched uranium and produced heavy water limited.” He said that European states would “face Iran’s further actions if they cannot fulfill their obligations within the next 60 days.” This is a gamble by the regime, saying it wants a “win-win” scenario. That means Iran will cease a 3.67% limit on enrichment of uranium. It was supposed to sell off any additional enriched uranium over 300 kilograms. It also had restrictions on how much heavy water it could keep. Beyond that it could reach high enrichment levels, closer to weapons-grade potential. The whole point of the deal was to prevent this scenario.
Iran’s Press TV said that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi has said that Iran has not left the JCPOA but that it has put “such a move on our agenda.” He has handed a letter to five countries; France, UK, Germany, Russia and China, that specifies the decisions of the Supreme National Security Council.
Behrooz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, also told ISNA that Iran’s “strategic patience” over the last year was running out. His remarks were meant to coincide with the one-year anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on May 8, 2018 that the US was leaving the Iran Deal. “Iran agreed that the surplus would be 300 kilograms of uranium enriched,” but Iran no longer considers itself obliged to sell a surplus over the 300 kilogram amount. The world is on notice for the next sixty days, he indicated as well.
Aragchi also attended a two-hour meeting Wednesday evening in which detailed how the US under Trump had behaved “disgracefully” and sought to reinstate sanctions, Tasnim news reports. But Iranian “cleverness and integrity” had coped with the US blows to the economy and Iran was engaged now in a struggle to bring the Europeans over to Iran’s side of the table. “We gave the Europeans, and of course Russia and China, as remaining members [of the JCPOA] a chance,” he said. He noted that the US was trying to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero. But Iran is seen as being in the superior position internationally, he claimed. “Therefore the US behavior is no longer negligible and a decisive decision was made to enter into a process of reducing our commitment [to the JCPOA].”
Fars News also carried Aragchi’s comments in which he described the European response to Iran’s demands as “slow.”
Overall this is a full- court press internally by Iran’s diplomats to explain its next actions not only to the world but also to its own people. The numerous Farsi interviews in twenty-four hours between May 8 and 9 are laying the foundation for Iran’s next moves. With Iran facing economic struggles and also recovering from flooding, the Iranian diplomats are trying to justify what may come next. They also want to show off their metal, juxtaposing it with the usual Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps bluster that is on display in Iranian media. Noticably absent this week were the IRGC talking-heads. Hossein Salami replaced Mohammed Ali Jafari as head of the IRGC in April.