The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the Russian side is putting on standby a project to re-profile the Iranian nuclear facility in Fordo in connection with the “new situation”. This was announced by Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkov.
“The situation is by and large new. The commitment to the project remained. Just now we are changing the schedule for its implementation. But a few is also a loose concept, ”he told RIA Novosti.
In addition, the representative of the foreign ministry urged the American partners to abandon the use of anti-Iranian sanctions as a "hook on which they hold everyone and make them nervous and make planning difficult." Ryabkov stressed that Washington needs to clarify which projects will not affect US restriction.
“Among them, in our opinion, there should definitely be a Fordo project, it must be returned to this list. Then this would be a manifestation of a responsible approach. Moreover, it is possible regardless of what political decisions the Trump administration adopted in 2018, and what policy of maximum or any other pressure it is now declaring and pursuing in relation to Iran. One is compatible with the other, ”the diplomat noted.
According to Ryabkov, the Russian side will try to explain to Washington "the internal inconsistency" of US practical actions "against the backdrop of statements that their main concern is to exclude the possibility of promoting Iran to possess nuclear weapons technologies."
This statement was made by the representative of the foreign ministry against the backdrop of reports that Washington is renewing sanctions against the Iranian nuclear facility, which was previously on the list of sanctions exceptions.
In November, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US side intends to re-introduce restrictions on the facility in Fordo from December 15. According to him, this is a response to Tehran’s decision to begin work on uranium enrichment.
The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the intention of the American side. The corresponding statement was published on the website of the foreign ministry.
“Such decisions are another example of a flagrant violation of international obligations on the part of the United States and their irresponsible attitude towards both the agreements concluded and the decisions of the UN Security Council,” the report said.
- Iran nuclear facility Fordo
- © Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
The Foreign Ministry emphasized that Tehran’s actions to suspend voluntary commitments under the JCPOA, including the resumption of enrichment at the Fordo facility, are a response to the “mindless political campaign unleashed by the United States” against the nuclear deal.
“All suspension works are carried out by Iran under the constant supervision of the IAEA and are technically completely reversible. Moreover, according to the agency, the suspension did not affect those cascades on the Ford, which are subject to reconfiguration, ”the department added.
Recall that in May 2018, Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, JCPOA). However, the United States announced the return of a harsh sanctions regime against the Iranian republic. In November of this year, Tehran began enriching uranium at the Fordo facility. At the same time, the Iranian authorities emphasized that this does not violate the conditions of the JCPOA, but, on the contrary, complies with its articles 26 and 36. These paragraphs allow Iran to consider the facts of re-imposing sanctions as a basis for terminating its obligations under the deal “in whole or in part”.
“They want to kill two birds with one stone”
It is worth noting that the issue of future work by Fordo on uranium enrichment was one of the key issues when signing the JCPOA. Tehran agreed to redevelop the facility into a research center, and Russia promised to help implement this part of the agreements.
Since 2017, specialists from the Russian fuel company of the state corporation Rosatom TVEL have been working on a project whose goal is to modify two cascades of gas centrifuges to make it possible to produce stable isotopes of tellurium and xenon for medical purposes. The company noted that the work was carried out in accordance with the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan.
However, in early December, TVEL reported that Russia suspended a project to re-profile the plant in Iranian Fordo.
“On November 6, 2019, as part of the next phase of Iran’s reduction of its voluntary obligations under the JCPOA, two cascades of gas centrifuges at the Fordo facility, which are located in the same hall as the cascades to be converted to the production of stable medical isotopes, were launched uranium hexafluoride. This makes it technologically impossible to further implement the TVEL project, ”the statement said.
The company also added that in order to resume work, it is necessary “to stop and dismantle the cascades at which uranium enrichment takes place and to thoroughly clean the premises and equipment”.
According to Vladimir Bruter, an expert at the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Studies, sanctions against Fordo can affect the Russian side, given that the Russian Federation has not completely abandoned the project, but only suspended it.
“The United States wants to kill two birds with one stone - at the same time provoke Iran to unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA and be able to impose additional sanctions, including against Russian companies that are involved in nuclear energy. They can imply any restrictions, up to restrictions on those companies that cooperate with Russian companies involved in nuclear energy, ”the analyst predicted in an interview with RT.
- Capitol Building in Washington
- © Loren Elliott
At the same time, Washington does not care that Russia helped Iran reorganize the Fordo plant as part of the JCPOA, Bruter emphasized.
“The White House will argue the imposition of sanctions by the fact that cooperation between Russia and Iran threatens US security. In fact, this, of course, is not so, but the White House needs a reason, nothing more, ”the expert said.
A similar position is shared by the head of the Center for Military-Political Studies of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Batyuk.
“Sanctions can also affect Russian companies that supply equipment to the Iranian plant and cooperate with this enterprise,” the expert said in a conversation with RT.
At the same time, he emphasized that the resumption of sanctions against Fordo is “illegal actions by the American side and a violation of international law.”
“This is an attempt to extend American laws to the rest of the international community, to give them extraterritorial character,” the analyst said.
“Not entitled to demand a review”
According to experts, Washington is tightening its sanctions policy against Iran, "covering itself up" with statements about Tehran’s reluctance to negotiate a new agreement to replace the JCPOA. At the same time, according to analysts, the IRI is aware that the United States wants to conclude a deal on terms favorable only to the American side.
The day before, US Senator Lindsey Graham took the initiative to change the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan to a “regional agreement."
“We need to replace this bad agreement with Iran - the JCPOA - with the one that is better, which the region would agree with. The forces in the region should also talk to each other, ”RIA Novosti quoted Graham as saying.
According to the senator, such an agreement would be a “good alternative” - it would suggest that regional states “can possess nuclear energy,” but “fuel must be imported from abroad so that no one has the opportunity to create a bomb.”
In June, Pompeo said in an interview with the Rheinische Post the need for a new nuclear deal with Iran. Then he even promised that one of its conditions would be the lifting of anti-Iranian sanctions previously imposed by Donald Trump.
“We are ready to conclude an agreement with Iran if it is ready to guarantee that there will be no development of opportunities for the production of atomic weapons that pose a threat to peace,” the Secretary of State said.
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
- © Yuri Gripas
However, less than a month later, Trump said that Tehran is not negotiating a new nuclear deal.
According to Bruter, the American side’s initiatives to create a new agreement are obviously not feasible, since they do not satisfy Tehran’s interests.
“To develop such an agreement, you need the consent of all parties. This is a complex process, given the level of distrust. After all, you have to cancel the previous version and discuss new principles, and it will be impossible to come to a consensus here. After all, Washington wants the agreement to be drawn up on their terms. As a result, the United States will impose so many control mechanisms on which no one will agree, ”Bruter noted.
In addition, the expert emphasized that the American side "has no right to demand a unilateral review of the transaction."
“This is the desire of Washington alone, which does not correspond to the situation and the principles of international law,” said Bruter.
This opinion is shared by Batyuk. According to him, it is “unclear” why Iran does not have the right to engage in “scientific and design work in the nuclear field” when Israel is “allowed” to do this.
“The initiatives of Graham and Pompeo are aimed at imposing additional obligations on Iran. Naturally, Tehran will never agree to this, ”said Batyuk.
Moreover, as the analyst notes, the White House will continue to tighten sanctions against the Iranian republic.
“Washington will continue to make attempts to make the sanctions extraterritorial, to impose restrictions on Chinese, Russian and European companies that cooperate with Iran. Of course, such actions by the United States do not contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the Middle East, ”Batyuk concluded.