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New nuclear agreement with Iran may be needed

Iran has been violating terms of the JCPOA

During the past year
, Iran has been gradually violating commitments under the JCPOA. The violations are a response to the US action of withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposing sanctions on Iran. Both the Iranian president and Iranian officials have argued that Iran could quickly come into compliance with the JCPOA in return for withdrawal of sanctions.

Response of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Rafael Grossi, IAEA head, told
Reuters questioned Iran’s response:“I cannot imagine that they are going simply to say, ‘We are back to square one’ because square one is no longer there. There is more (nuclear) material, … there is more activity, there are more centrifuges, and more are being announced. So what happens with all this?”

Currently, Iran is enriching uranium at 4.5 percent while the JCPOA sets the limit at 3.67 percent. Iran is also stockpiling about 12 times what is allowed under the JCPOA. However, enrichment could easily be scaled back and the uranium stockpile could be exported to Russia to make fuel rods for Iran.

The final violations are new centrifuges being operated underground. They were moved underground after above ground centrifuges were damaged in an explosion possibly caused by Israeli sabotage. Iran also promised that this move was reversible should the US lift sanctions.

Grossi said
there could be a deal within the deal: “Oh yes, oh yes. Undoubtedly. It is clear that there will have to be a protocol or an agreement or an understanding or some ancillary document which will stipulate clearly what we do.”

Iran and Biden’s positions

Publicly Iran’s position has been that they will not negotiate any new arrangements with the US unless the US first lifts sanctions against it and also returns to the terms of the JCPOA. Biden has said he plans to work with the Iranians to return to th JCPOA and then negotiate a follow o n deal on top of it. While Biden’s plans seem to fit with those of Iran Grossi’s remarks suggest there could be difficulties.

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