If the US wishes to return to the JCPOA, the precondition is the removal of sanctions
In his televised speech on the 19th of Dey (January 8, 2021), the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei stated the following with respect to the attitude of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and America’s responsibility in this regard:
“We are in no rush and we are not insisting on the US's return to the JCPOA. Whether America returns to the JCPOA or not is not what concerns us. What we logically seek in this respect is the removal of sanctions. This is the right of the Iranian nation that has been usurped.” These statements indicate the position taken by the Leader, which he termed “the final and absolute word” of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Concerning the “Final Word” of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the official website of KHAMENEI.IR examines the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in relation to sanctions and the JCPOA in an interview with Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, the Advisor to the Leader of the Revolution on International Affairs and a member of the Expediency Discernment Council.
Interviewer: Why are western countries obliged to remove all sanctions against the Iranian nation? Why does removing the sanctions have priority over America’s return to the JCPOA?
Dr. Velayati: The Americans proposed that if we limit our peaceful nuclear activities, they will remove sanctions. We did this within the deadline that had been specified and which we had promised the P5+1. But in response, the Americans temporarily removed only some of the sanctions and extended their removal in short time intervals. I mean that from the very beginning they intended to remove them only temporarily. When the next government came to power in America, it was not committed to this obligation at all. No matter what government is in power in America, if it makes a commitment, then that commitment is obligatory for subsequent governments also. We fulfilled our commitments, but they did not. Naturally if they want to return to the JCPOA, they must remove sanctions as they had promised to do.
In obedience to America, three other western countries - France, Germany and England, which represent the European Union - also imposed many limitations on us. In a way it may be said that they imposed indirect sanctions. However, out of the P5+1, Russia and China helped us as much as they could and fulfilled their commitments. When the Americans have such a bad record in fulfilling their commitments, we have the right to distrust them. If they do return and want to restart negotiations while they have not yet fulfilled their previous commitments, this is not acceptable at all. In addition, we have already experienced losses, and they should recompense us for those losses.
Interviewer: Will America’s return to the JCPOA be useful?
Dr. Velayati: We are not going to insist on America’s return and we are in no rush. But if they do want to return, then there are some preconditions. The most important one is the removal of sanctions for us to be ensured that the new government is committed to the American obligations under the JCPOA. That is to say, they should announce this commitment and the American president should also make a commitment. Obama, the president of the US at that time, was initially supposed to make a commitment. The precondition set by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution was that the American president makes a written commitment that he could not deny later on. Although they said an oral commitment is enough, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution did not consent to this. Unfortunately, an oral commitment was only made, which they did not fulfill later on. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution did not even accept the Trigger Mechanism and it was done against his will. This mechanism must definitely be put aside as it is an illogical principle if there are going to be any subsequent negotiations.
Interviewer: What is your evaluation of the consequences of the Parliament and government’s determination to gradually cancel Iran’s obligations under the JCPOA?
Dr. Velayati: The Parliament and the government fulfilled their duty. More than four-fifths of the members of Parliament voted in favor of this law. It is a completely valid law and the government is bound to execute it. Of course, our government has shown that they are going to implement the Parliament’s decision. What our government and Parliament did, was absolutely legal and it was not right to postpone this anymore.
What is worth noting in this respect is that we are in need of scientific development and nuclear medicine, and this requires 20 percent enriched uranium. Our nuclear scientists were able to judiciously and efficiently produce 20 percent enriched uranium, which is needed for diagnostic and therapeutic activities in medicine. This measure adopted by the Parliament and the government was very important and absolutely legal. We did not make any commitment not to engage in activities that have to do with peaceful, medical, nuclear applications. Therefore, this was a very good step and showed that whenever Iran decides to produce highly enriched uranium, it can easily do so.
Interviewer: How do you, as the Advisor to the Leader on International Affairs, see the way ahead of the Islamic Republic of Iran to continuing the JCPOA? How should we continue this route?
Dr. Velayati: Any government that is a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has the right to benefit from peaceful nuclear sciences. The nuclear industry, as a parent industry, is related to about 500 industrial and scientific fields. No country can deprive itself of peaceful nuclear energy in the current age. Fossil fuels will finish sooner or later, and we need to use nuclear sciences for producing electricity and energy and for advancing industrial and scientific endeavors. If the Islamic Republic is not self-sufficient in this respect, it will come under the pressure of those who have nuclear energy. Iran will not consent to this since this is in conflict with its independence.
Others showed that they are not committed to their obligations. Therefore, we surely need to benefit from peaceful nuclear sciences. However, with the commitments we have made under the JCPOA, our activities will be limited for a short period of time. But from 2025 onwards, these limitations will be removed. Due to the commitment that we have both religiously and internationally, as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution pointed out, using nuclear weapons is prohibited. Other than this exception, any other application (other than nuclear weapons) is permissible and necessary for us, and we will use this with God’s grace. We will never separate ourselves from the nuclear industry, and we will never deprive ourselves of it.
Interviewer: If you have anything to add, please go ahead.
Dr. Velayati: We are an independent country and have paid a huge cost for our independence. With its cultural background of 10,000 years, political background of 2,500 years and its great scientific background in creating an Islamic civilization, our country has the right to satisfy its needs and manage itself with complete authority. Authoritative management of the country is in conflict with the intervention of others in our affairs and them telling us to “do this” or “not do that.”
Therefore, we will take the required measures with regard to the future of our country in the way that is good for the nation and as required by our country’s interests. This will be done in the framework of international laws and national requirements. And without a doubt, we will not accept the impositions of the Americans or the non-Americans. In fact, the most important feature of the Revolution was its saving us from dependence. With the Islamic Revolution, the hands of the Domineering Powers were cut off for all purposes and Iran was emancipated. If we accept that others determine what our interests are or make decisions on our behalf, it means that we have lost the independence our people have strived for decades to gain. We will surely not do that which is in conflict with our independence.