JCPOA Created Huge Opportunities

Iran will not be able to speed up national development without importing technology and accessing the expertise and achievements of other countries
Ali Akbar Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi

Iran's nuclear chief defended the 2015 nuclear agreement championed by President Hassan Rouhani, highlighting the extent and range of opportunities it has provided for national development.

Tehran got relief from international sanctions in January, when the landmark deal with major powers, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, went into force following temporary curbs on its nuclear program.

"The situation after JCPOA has been incredible and opportunities are flooding in one after another," Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency in an address to a gathering of elites in Tehran on Tuesday.

"We won't be able to speed up national development unless by importing [modern] technology. We need to access experience and achievements of other countries."

Rouhani's opponents have fiercely criticized the deal, fearing that an opening to the West, promoted by Rouhani whose primary concern is to reverse the current economic downturn, could make the country an easy prey for hostile western powers.

They also accuse him and his negotiating team of making too many concessions and compromising the Islamic Republic's principles.

"The term 'nuclear energy' brings to mind the words 'centrifuge' and 'heavy water'. But this industry has many more technical advantages," said Salehi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Under JCPOA, Iran was permitted to keep 130 tons of its heavy water stock and sell, dilute and dispose of the excess amounts, under certain conditions.

It is also operating one-third of centrifuges installed at Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites before it agreed to limit its nuclear work.

  Numerous Gains  

"JCPOA involved numerous achievements [especially] relating to technical aspects. We kept our nuclear industry alive and we have said that many times but some fail or do not want to listen," he said.

The green light for the full implementation of the action plan was pending a confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency that the Islamic Republic had put the curbs in place.

International firms are vying for a slice of Iran's lucrative market that remained untapped over years of sanctions.

Thanks to the deal, Tehran has restored access to the global banking system and has recouped most of its pre-sanctions market share of oil exports, on which its domestic economy heavily depends.

In addition, it is allowed by the pact to engage in nuclear cooperation with other countries.

This is while before the Rouhani administration came to office and took the initiative in nuclear negotiations in 2013, western powers insisted that the Islamic Republic should abandon its nuclear activities.

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