MOSCOW – Iran can easily restore its nuclear potential if the European Union succumbs to US pressure to reinstall sanctions against Tehran, which were suspended under the nuclear agreement of 2015 (also known as the JCPOA), a senior Russian diplomat said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Iran had not yet violated its commitments under the nuclear agreement with world powers. Tehran still stores less than 130 tonnes of heavy water – material used as a neutron moderator in reactors.
However, the Persians will exceed the limits if JCPOA members find no solution “primarily to guarantee the legitimate economic interests of the Islamic Republic,” the Russian diplomat said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.
Ryabkov added that “there is no doubt that Iran can quickly restore uranium enrichment by up to 20%,” as it had before JCPOA reached 3.67%. The diplomat, however, rejected concerns about this possible violation of the JCPOA’s terms as an “abstract” threat.
He said that in order to keep Iran’s nuclear program under control, it is important to ensure Tehran’s participation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), “regardless of the fate that will fall on the JCPOA.”
The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China to place limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for suspension of sanctions. Last year, however, Donald Trump’s government unilaterally withdrew from the agreement, again imposed severe sanctions on Iran and began to pressure other countries to sever ties with Tehran. Washington says Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons, a claim that Tehran constantly denies.
Russia has proposed a set of “full” measures to save the JCPOA, which hopes to continue working with Iran and other “sensible parties,” Ryabkov said after bilateral talks. Moscow also called on all JCPOA partners to meet as quickly as possible to draft a road map that “will not let the situation deteriorate.”