US Withdrawal from JCPOA to Drive World to Nuclear Proliferation: Ex-Iranian Negotiator

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator, said US President Donald Trump’s potential decision to leave the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers would curb global attempts aimed at controlling nuclear proliferation.

US Withdrawal from JCPOA to Drive World to Nuclear Proliferation: Ex-Iranian Negotiator

“If Trump follows through with his ultimatum and chooses to leave the JCPOA, his decision will have long-term consequences not only for the United States but also for global attempts to control nuclear proliferation,” Mousavian wrote in a piece for Reuters on Friday.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian is an Iranian policymaker and scholar who served on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy team in negotiations with the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France, and Germany). He currently resides in the United States, where he is a visiting research scholar at Princeton University.

Following is the full text of his article:

After months of threatening to undo the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Donald Trump once again opted to extend the deal by waiving economic sanctions on Iran. This was the “last chance,” he declared in a Jan. 12 statement, “to either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”

The US president provided four conditions for a “supplemental agreement” to the JCPOA and called on Congress to ordain them into law. These include: Iran allowing “immediate” inspections of “all sites requested by international inspectors,” Iran never coming “close to possessing a nuclear weapon,” that there be “no expiration date” for these provisions, and finally, that the legislation explicitly state that Iran’s “long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs are inseparable.”

In the event that Congress or American allies in Europe fail to support the so-called supplemental agreement, Trump proclaimed, he would unilaterally “terminate” the JCPOA. This is a shocking attitude towards the European Union member countries, among others.

The reality is that the JCPOA’s text stipulates the highest standards on nuclear transparency and inspections ever negotiated and provides verifiable assurances that Iran’s nuclear program cannot be diverted towards developing nuclear weapons. These measures already meet the first two of Trump’s conditions and surpass anything agreed to by a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Furthermore, while the JCPOA’s major restrictions are temporary, with expiration dates ranging from eight to 25 years, after the deal expires, Iran returns to monitoring under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s “Additional Protocol” safeguards. As noted by more than 90 nuclear scientists in an October 2017 letter supporting the JCPOA, these represent the “strongest set of generally applicable safeguards implemented by the IAEA.”

Trump’s conditions seemingly seek to make permanent the JCPOA’s major restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and connect the Iranian nuclear program to its missile program, despite the opposition of other world powers to any renegotiation of the deal and the conditions representing an egregious violation of the NPT. Indeed, Iran has a sovereign right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under the treaty, which states that there should be no discrimination in the right of signatories to benefit from peaceful nuclear technologies and in no way limits states’ abilities to develop conventional weapons.

Iran also has a sovereign right to possess missiles to defend itself. There are no international treaties banning conventional missiles. “President Trump has no right to dictate limits or restrictions over and beyond those just described,” said Peter Jenkins, a former UK ambassador to the IAEA.

If Trump follows through with his ultimatum and chooses to leave the JCPOA, his decision will have long-term consequences not only for the United States but also for global attempts to control nuclear proliferation.

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