EghtesadOnline: Iran's new step to further downgrade its commitments toward the 2015 nuclear deal was a muted message to Europe while Tehran should have sent a strong warning to the United States, says a senior lawmaker, who believes the pressure that prompted the Europeans to act to save the agreement should not be eased.
"I believe the new step was a little conservative and cautious," Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told the Iranian Diplomacy website in a recent interview.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran will abandon restrictions on nuclear research and development, including on the advancement of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, as the next step toward reducing compliance with the nuclear accord in retaliation for US sanctions reimposed on Tehran.
Iran has said it will scale back its commitments under the agreement every 60 days until Europe negotiates improved economic terms and offsets the effects of the US withdrawal last year. In the first two phases, it surpassed the pact's limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium and heavy water, and exceeded a cap on enrichment levels, Financial Tribune reported.
Time Not in Favor of Iran
Falahatpisheh says Iran should not have missed the opportunity to further demonstrate its decisiveness, considering the fact that time is not in favor of the country.
"At this critical juncture, we need to intensify our pressure on Europe and the United States by taking a serious step," he said, stressing that it was Tehran's first two steps that caused France to take the initiative of shielding the Iranian economy from US sanctions.
According to Iranian and western diplomats, the French offer includes a $15 billion credit line to compensate for lost oil revenues, but would depend on a guarantee from the Trump administration not to block the money.
"I believe Iran's third step in reducing its nuclear commitments was more a warning to Europe rather than a message and warning to the United States. This is while the Islamic Republic should send a serious message and a strong warning to the United States," he said, adding that Washington is the major player in this scenario and Europe cannot flex its muscles without the US approval.
Falahatpisheh said Iran missed a golden opportunity that could have been used as a leverage in the next 60 days.
However, he added that the new step should not be regarded as an "unimportant" or "worthless" move, because R&D lies at the heart of Iran's peaceful nuclear program and can give impetus to future civilian nuclear activities.
The third step should not be considered a decision made only by President Hassan Rouhani because experts and national security officials definitely studied all the options and had a say in the decision-making process.
In addition, the lawmaker said Iran should shorten the 60-day deadlines set for Europe to salvage the nuclear accord and take a stronger step within two weeks if Britain, France and Germany fail to uphold their end of the bargain.
"These two-month deadlines only keep Iran's hands tied," he said.