Lawmakers Defend Law to Ramp Up Nuclear Activities

Rouhani has repeatedly criticized the parliament for passing the legislation, saying it hindered his administration’s efforts to remove sanctions
Lawmakers Defend Law to Ramp Up Nuclear Activities
Lawmakers Defend Law to Ramp Up Nuclear Activities

A number of Iranian lawmakers defended a law which required an increase in nuclear activities to levels further beyond the limits of the 2015 deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“This law was passed with the aim of pressing western countries to return to their commitments,” Abolfazl Amouei, member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said in an interview with ICANA. 
Dubbed the “strategic action plan to lift sanctions and safeguard the interests of the Iranian people,” the law was passed last December, obliging the government to further exceed JCPOA limits unless American bans were removed by a three-month deadline. 
The United States reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran after its withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018, while other western parties remained unable to protect Iran’s economic interests. 
Iran had already scaled down its nuclear commitments in response, but the legislation required further steps, including suspension of adherence to the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The strategic action plan has accomplished its purposes, including the improvement of our nuclear program and putting them [western powers] under time pressure to accept the rights of the Iranian nation,” Amouei said.  
The law was passed following the victory of Joe Biden in US presidential elections, which raised the prospects of reviving the deal given his campaign promise to rejoin the JCPOA.
Negotiations did start in early April in Vienna, Austria, to bring the agreement back to life, but is yet to reach an outcome despite good progress over six rounds.  



Impediment or Upper Hand

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration managed to strike the landmark deal back in 2015, has repeatedly taken a swipe at the parliament over passing the controversial law, saying it hindered the government’s efforts to remove sanctions.
“It is clear that they [the negotiating sides in Vienna] and we were ready to take certain measures but the legislation passed in the Majlis didn’t allow us to do our job,” he said on Sunday. 
He claims sanctions would have been lifted by March without the parliament’s intervention. 
“If we’d been able to use the authorities that the Constitution gives us, we wouldn’t have had sanctions at the start of 1400 [Persian calendar year],” he said. 
Amouei rejected the claim as baseless, arguing that the western countries were never ready to remove their bans.
Biden, according to him, was never ready to return to JCPOA without preconditions.
He demanded that Iran take the first step back into compliance and intended to maintain the sanctions that were not related to nuclear activities, such as those imposed under human rights pretexts. 
The new US president also aimed to “extend and strengthen the deal,” by putting non-nuclear issues up for discussion, including Iran’s missile program and regional policies which Iran says will never negotiate on. 
“Even in recent negotiations … over 500 sanctions have remained in place,” he said. 
He also pointed to the initiation of formal talks in April, saying no success could have been achieved in March since there were no negotiations. 
Mahmoud Abbaszadeh, another lawmaker, said the parliamentary action plan provided the government with the best possible tool to enter negotiations with an advantage. 
“If Biden and westerners showed willingness to return to JCPOA, it was because of this law,” he said, adding that the legislation gave the Islamic Republic the upper hand. 
He also accused Rouhani of trying to divert attention from his failures, including his inability to have the sanctions removed before the introduction of the law. 
Alireza Salimi, member of the parliament’s presiding board, also said Rouhani is looking for a culprit for his administration’s inefficiency. 
“It was the Majlis strategic plan that brought Europeans to the negotiating table,” he said. 

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