0854 GMT May 23, 2019
Washington’s maximum pressure policy against Tehran is acquiring added dimensions while the US is attempting to, practically, minimize Iran’s ability to fulfill its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
To confront this strategy and aiming to minimize the negative consequences of US cost-imposing measures, the Islamic Republic appears to be preparing itself for sending a vivid and expressive message.
What is necessary for Iran to take into consideration in giving a response to the US is that such a clear and expressive message should to be defined as a move within the legal framework of the JCPOA’s technical measures.
As stipulated in Article 37 of the JCPOA, if other parties to the deal do not honor part of their commitments, Iran can proportionately refrain from fulfilling some of its own: “If sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.” This stresses the necessity of being within the technical framework of the agreement, Iran’s response to US hostile measures.
The commitments Iran has pledged to meet under the deal and the type and nature of its nuclear activities have provided the country with quite favorable room for maneuver and the opportunity to reduce its obligations step by step.
For instance, Iran can expand the range of its activities in the field of nuclear technology research and development and make an important move by putting its IR8 centrifuges into service and injecting UF6 gas into them.
In addition, under the JCPOA, Iran was allowed to store and sell its extra heavy water, produced at its Arak facility, in Oman. The trend, however, was halted by the Trump administration as Washington refrained from renewing the waiver on this.
In reaction to this move and on the grounds that the US has failed to fulfill its commitment on purchasing Iran’s heavy water, the Islamic Republic can store its heavy water on its own soil.
On the other hand, in response to Europe’s delayed implementation of the INSTEX mechanism and the consequent suspension of Iran’s trade relations with other countries, Tehran can condition honoring parts of its nuclear commitments on the progress of the activation process of the mechanism.
Such a move, however, must be wise and made based on an intelligently designed plan. To this end, Iran can announce a list of the retaliatory moves it can make within the framework of the JCPOA that allow the country to both give an effective response to the party that is violating the agreement without overstepping legal boundaries and push the other signatories to go beyond words and take practical steps in safeguarding Tehran’s interests.
Under the present circumstances, Iranian officials should consider numerous factors when making their decisions, such as the conditions of the international market and the domestic economy and the general atmosphere pervading public opinion.
Great politicians make difficult, momentous and effective decisions under tough circumstances.
By intensifying all-out pressure on Iran, Washington seeks to place Tehran in such a difficult situation that it concludes that it has nothing to lose. Thus, designing an intelligent technical plan within the legal framework of the JCPOA, Iran can send a vivid message to other parties to the deal: In case they want to satisfy Tehran and persuade it to remain in the deal, now is the right time.
* Rahman Qahremanpour is an expert on strategic affairs.