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Iran warns it could ‘reconsider’ IAEA cooperation over nuke program

Ali Larijani is an Iranian philosopher, conservative politician and current chairman of the Parliament of Iran. (Mostafameraji/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The influential speaker of Iran’s parliament has warned European powers against “for any reason” taking an “unfair” approach to the dispute mechanism in the 4-year-old nuclear deal that has been in the balance since a U.S. pullout in 2018.

Tehran would “seriously reconsider our cooperation” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a result, the speaker, Ali Larijani, who is also a former chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran, was quoted as saying by state TV.

Germany, Britain, and France announced last week that they had triggered the dispute mechanism in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which exchanged curbs on Iran’s nuclear program for relief from international sanctions.

“What the three European countries did regarding Iran’s nuclear issue…is unfortunate,” Larijani said.

“We clearly announce that if Europe, for any reason, uses Article 37 of the nuclear agreement unfairly, then Iran will make a serious decision regarding cooperation with the agency,” he added, according to AFP.

The European states — signatories of the JCPOA along with China, Russia, the European Union, and, formerly, the United States — said that, while the mechanism could lead to UN sanctions against Iran, they were not joining Washington’s yearlong “maximum pressure” campaign designed to change Tehran’s behavior.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated their commitment to the JCPOA on January 19 and agreed during a meeting on the sidelines of a Libya-summit in Berlin that a long-term framework was needed, according to a Downing Street spokeswoman quoted by Reuters.

“On Iran, the leaders reiterated their commitment to the JCPoA…and also acknowledged the need to define a long-term framework to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon,” the spokeswoman said. “They agreed on the importance of de-escalation and of working with international partners to find a diplomatic way through the current tensions.”

Since the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, Iran has breached its main limitations, exceeding the stockpiles of heavy water and uranium allowed, the number and types of centrifuges it can operate to enrich uranium, and the purity of uranium.

U.S. President Donald Trump — who reimposed tough sanctions on Iran after leaving the JCPOA — has said he wants Tehran to negotiate a new accord that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear program and restrict Tehran’s ballistic-missile program.

Tehran has said it won’t enter new talks until sanctions are lifted.