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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Iran’s Strategy: Negotiate Using the Threat of Reneging on Its Commitments

Filed under: Europe, Iran, Nuclear Warfare

Iran’s Strategy: Negotiate Using the Threat of Reneging on Its Commitments
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi said Iran would begin transferring nuclear materials to the Fordow site on November 6, 2019, as part of its fourth phase of reneging on its nuclear agreement obligations. He made it clear that the nuclear agreement prohibited Iran from transferring any nuclear material to Fordow, “but Iran is in the process of transferring nuclear material to the site.” He added that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was updated that the transfer of nuclear materials – before being fed into centrifuges – would take place on November 6, 2019. The spokesman said that by the end of the week, Iran would provide reporters with more details on the nuclear issue.

On November 5, 2019, President Hassan Rouhani said that he instructed the AEOI to implement the fourth stage of moving away from Iranian commitments to the nuclear accord. He said that like the previous stages of Iranian violations of the nuclear agreement, these steps are “reversible,” and if the other nations that also signed the deal will fulfill their side of the agreement and restore Iran to their previous position (January 2017), then Iran will return to fulfill their commitments. Rouhani noted that the IAEA would be allowed to monitor their activities.

The Iranian president said that the facility in Fordow currently has 1,044 centrifuges in which uranium gas will be injected, in direct violation of the nuclear accord, where it was agreed that the centrifuges would be operated in a vacuum without being injected with gas. Under the agreement, Iran also pledged to drastically reduce the number of centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment site and banned uranium enrichment by 2031. At the same time, Rouhani made it clear that Iran continues to be committed to behind the scenes negotiations with several countries to resolve the crisis. Rouhani claims that Iran “had hoped to achieve results before taking these current measures, but that didn’t happen; No results were achieved, so we had to take this fourth step.”

Partial Enrichment to Five Percent

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Iran, under the supervision of IAEA inspectors, would partially enrich uranium to a five percent level in a Fordow enrichment facility named after Masoud Alimohammadi (an Iranian scientist assassinated in January 2010). He emphasized that to enrich uranium to five percent, Iran would use centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to 20 percent.1

Ali Akbar Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran

The Iranian president said that during a short time frame – two months – talks will continue, but only if Iran can get them on track, that is to lift the sanctions and, most importantly, to export oil, which would return Iran to the previous situation. Rouhani added that Iran adopted a balanced strategy for dealing with the nuclear agreement in which Iran negotiates while simultaneously demonstrating a “spirit of resistance” (to the U.S. exit from the deal and European weakness in upholding the accord).

On the other hand, Iranian leader Khamenei expressed (again) great pessimism about the outcome of negotiations between Iran and the West, regarding the nuclear agreement. He criticized the central mediator between the United States and Iran – French President Emmanuel Macron. Iran’s leader said, “One wonders if he is really so naive, or just an accomplice and working with the United States,” and that negotiations and meetings won’t solve the problem.2

Supreme Leader Khamenei
Supreme Leader Khamenei rejects European mediation.

One way or another, Iran, using its current strategy, continues to gradually gain nuclear capabilities that will allow Iran to quickly return to its full nuclear program activities, whenever it chooses to do so.

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