The US State Department spokesman on Thursday said that according to provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon.

The statement met with skepticism among reporters who insisted that nothing in the JCPOA explicitly bans Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons after some of its provision expire during this decade.

In an answer to a question if the United States intends to extend some of the expiring limitation on Iran, Spokesman Ned Price responded that the agreement bans Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that is a “permanent” provision.

“What the JCPOA put forward was a permanent, was a verifiable mechanism to ensure that Iran is never able or allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Price added.

Price went on to say that the US is interested first to revive the JCPOA, that former president Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 and make sure that Iran “is once again constrained.” He continued that “we will then use that JCPOA…as a baseline to negotiate what we have – the – not only to lengthen and strengthen the provisions of the deal, but to put on the table and to discuss, in a productive and hopefully useful way, other issues of concern, issues that are of concern not only to the United States, but also of concern to our allies and partners in the region as well.”

In effect, Price reiterated the initial Biden Administration goal of first resurrecting the 2015 deal and then continue negotiating over a better agreement and also the twin issues of Iran’s ballistic missiles and its regional behavior.

Critics of this approach have said that once the JCPOA is revived, the United States has to lift the most effective and damaging sanctions, which would mean throwing the Islamic Republic a financial lifeline. Once Tehran can sell its oil and receive the money, it would have no incentive to make further concessions.

Whether the US has demanded assurances from Tehran during the Vienna talks this year to continue negotiations after sanctions are lifted, is not known. What the spokesman did emphasize on Thursday was restoring control over Iran’s nuclear program first, and then “hope from there we’ll be able to engage in constructive diplomacy vis-à-vis the other challenges that Iran poses to the United States, to our allies, to our partners in the region.”

Asked directly what leverage the United States would have over Iran without the most important sanctions in the future, Price avoided an answer, repeating that Washington is “focused on that first task.”

A reporter asked that a permanent ban on Iran acquiring nuclear weapons “is simply not” in the JCPOA text. Price responded that “What we are relying on are the international instruments that have been negotiated and that, until recent years, had been in place that had permanently and verifiably constrained Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

The reporter kept insisting that the only permanent provision in JCPOA is Iran’s commitment to comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which North Korea disregarded and produced nuclear weapons. Price continued to insist that the JCPOA gives the international community “permanent instruments” to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.

Source » iranintl