Facing US Onslaught, Iran Weighs Cool-Headed Response

The US antagonism on the nuclear deal has been discussed at length in the JCPOA Oversight Committee and appropriate responses have been decided
Ali LarijaniAli Larijani

Iran has prepared appropriate responses to a toughening US policy announced on Friday, the Majlis speaker said.

Ali Larijani made the statement on Thursday ahead of the rollout of the new US strategy on Tehran, IRNA reported.

The top lawmaker noted that it has failed to unsettle the Islamic Republic, stressing that a global consensus exists in support of the UN-endorsed pact.

“There is absolutely no anxiety among Iranian officials,” he said.

“I’m informed that the European countries, Russia and China share Iran’s stance that the JCPOA must be preserved,” he said, using the official title of the nuclear accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that Iran clinched with the United States, along with five other powers.

US President Donald Trump was to lay out a more confrontational strategy toward Iran on Friday in a speech in which he was likely to strike a blow at the 2015 pact, complicating US relations with European allies.

He was expected to announce the result of his administration’s quarterly review of Iran’s compliance with the action plan in a notification to Congress. The deadline for that notification is Sunday.

Trump had certified the nuclear pact twice before, but aides said he was reluctant to do so a third time. The beleaguered Republican has found himself under immense pressure as he is set to decertify the deal.

The step would not withdraw the United States from the deal but will give the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended as part of an agreement negotiated under former US president, Barack Obama. Larijani reiterated the Islamic Republic’s vow of “reciprocal” response to the likely decision by Trump.

  Well-Thought Countermeasures

“The issue has been discussed at length in the JCPOA Oversight Committee and appropriate responses have been decided,” he said.

The new Iran strategy, that was to be outlined in Trump’s speech, will seek to strengthen the enforcement of the nuclear deal, which he considers flawed, and prevent funding for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps to curb its regional role, Reuters reported.

The UN nuclear watchdog has repeatedly certified that Iran is adhering to restrictions on its nuclear energy program mandated by the deal in return for giving it relief from international sanctions.

***Three Goals of New US Strategy

Hours before Trump’s speech, a White House statement laid out key elements of the new strategy and said it would include three key goals: Fixing the nuclear deal to make it harder for Iran to develop a weapon, addressing its ballistic missile program and countering Iranian activities that Washington claims contribute to instability in the Middle East.

As the administration announced its plan for Iran, Republican senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton said they had developed legislation intended to address what they see as deficiencies in the Iran nuclear deal.

In the proposed legislative framework, they offered a plan to automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran’s nuclear program were to get to a point where Tehran could develop a nuclear weapon in less than one year, known as a “breakout” period.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and denies it is developing nuclear weapons. They said the measure, if passed by Congress, would remain in force indefinitely, lead to tougher inspections and limit Iran’s centrifuge development.

It was unclear what chance the measure, expected to be offered as an amendment to the existing Iran nuclear review law, would have of winning enough support to be passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate.

The measure’s backers said their intention was to set conditions to halt Iran’s nuclear program and provide time “for diplomacy and pressure to work.

Trump intends to expand US policy beyond just the nuclear agreement and take steps to curb Iran’s clout in the region.

“The United States’ new Iran strategy focuses on neutralizing the government of Iran’s [alleged] destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants,” the White House fact sheet claimed.

The statement said Trump would work to deny funding for the Iranian government, particular the IRGC.

Prominent US lawmakers and officials from other parties to the deal, including the three European powers, namely Germany, France and Britain, have spoken out repeatedly against Trump’s stance, warning that the JCPOA decertification would leave the US isolated, concede the diplomatic high ground to Tehran and ultimately risk the unraveling of the agreement.

In a telephone conversation with Trump on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed her country’s commitment to the deal.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel German cautioned Trump on Thursday that his JCPOA antagonism is driving a wedge between Europe and the United States, and bringing Europeans closer to Russia and China.

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