Photo Credit: Iran Press TV screen grab
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi.

The Islamic Republic of Iran will “further modify” its nuclear deal commitment on July 7, according to an announcement by Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani published Tuesday on the state-run Fars News Agency website.

The move is being made “given the European states’ inaction to save the internationally-endorsed agreement and the United States’ increasing sanctions,” Shamkhani said.

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“Based on a decision by the SNSC, the second step to modify Iran’s nuclear deal undertakings will seriously start within the framework of paragraphs 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal,” he wrote, adding that the recent statement by three European states and U.S. President Donald Trump’s “game of sanctions are the two sides of the same coin, whose incentives are being displayed more than ever after a year of useless talks with Europe.”

Speaking in Tehran on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed frustration that the long-promised Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX) – a financial mechanism intended to bypass the U.S. sanctions – had not yet been put into operation.

Zarif said INSTEX was a preliminary step of the European members of the nuclear deal to partially deliver on their commitments, and that even if the mechanism was fully put into practice, it still would not mean the European Union had completely met their obligations under the JCPOA, “or what they promised Tehran to do and compensate for after the unilateral withdrawal of Washington from the agreement.”

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi warned the European nations who are party to the nuclear deal that Iran will not be satisfied with a “credit line of no use.”

Clearly, American sanctions are beginning to bite.

“Iran must retain its oil revenues as much as it used to earn before the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the agreement, and it again depends if Iran’s expectations are met with the total sum of money they have allocated for delivering on their promises and honoring the deal,” Mousavi said, according to the Fars News Agency.

“So long as practical steps with tangible outputs are not undertaken to meet the rightful demands of Iran which are legally justified under the JCPOA, we will keep scaling down our commitments,” the Iranian diplomat reiterated, warning, “We will undertake the second step within the next couple of days if they fail to take any action.”

Last Wednesday, Spokesman and Deputy Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi said that his country plans to further modify its 2015 nuclear deal undertakings to bring its commitments and merits into balance.

“Iran’s two-month deadline to the sides who have remained committed to the nuclear deal is not extendable and the second step will be taken based on the time-table, and the timeline will be pursued precisely in future,” Kamalvandi added.

He explained that Iran’s measures are proper and reciprocal and depend on the way of implementation of the nuclear deal undertakings by other members, adding that it is not fair for Iran to do its obligations, while the opposite sides do not make any practical move.

“Practically, their behavior means that they do not want to remain committed to their undertakings or are not able to do so and in this case, everything is clear to us,” Kamalvandi said.

“It is important that we are creating a balance between our obligations and rights and if they recognize our rights, that is removing the sanctions stated in the nuclear deal, (then) we will implement our undertakings too, otherwise, we will modify our undertakings to create a balance,” he added.

Kamalvandi announced last Monday that Iran increased uranium enrichment and would pass the 300-kg ceiling specified under the nuclear deal on June 27.

“Production of 3.67% (enriched) uranium has increased since the capacity was quadrupled. We will cross the 300-kg limit in 10 days from now,” he told reporters in a news conference at the Arak heavy water installations in central Iran. Kamalvandi pointed to Iran’s further modifications of its nuclear deal undertakings after the 60-day deadline, and noted that enhancing the enrichment levels could be one such move, depending on the country’s needs and relevant decisions by officials.

“Uranium enrichment can increase to any (purity) level over 3.67%, it could start from 3.68% to whatever level needed, depending on the decision of officials,” the spokesperson said.

“There are two scenarios, including one that entails enrichment beyond 3.67% for the Bushehr reactor which will need 5% fuel, or produce 20% fuel for the Tehran (research) reactor.”

Kamalvandi also raised the possibility that Iran would further use all its heavy water production domestically, adding, “The heavy water plant has undergone a very good overhaul and is ready to boost its capacity. “If we do not have a market in the next 2.5 months, the heavy water reserves can surpass 130 tons too,” he said – another ceiling specified under the nuclear deal, which Iran has vowed to ignore.

He noted that the AEOI is waiting for the Iranian officials’ decision to go for phase two of modifications in the country’s nuclear deal undertakings, and said, “Of course, the Europeans have an opportunity, (but) Iran will not wait for their action” any more than the 60-day deadline declared by Tehran on May 8.

“Iran’s stockpiles will increase more rapidly and if keeping the nuclear deal is important to them (the Europeans), they should make efforts,” Kamalvandi said.

He reiterated that Iran’s measures are in line with Paragraphs 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal, and said, “Once they implement their undertakings, the (Iran’s) measures will return to the past (status).”

Iranian officials had earlier warned that the European Union’s “failure in providing the needed ground for Tehran to enjoy the economic benefits of the nuclear deal” would exhaust the country’s patience.

Last Saturday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi and Secretary General of European External Action Service Helga Schmid, met in Tehran and studied the latest developments under the nuclear deal and in connection with Iran’s 60-day deadline.

Araqchi warned Schmid that Tehran’s 60-day deadline will not be extended at all, adding, “Iran will adopt the next measures or the second step unless its demands will be met by them (the Europeans).”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo have also met in recent weeks with Iranian officials and to conferr on the JCPOA, and the rising tensions between Iran and the U.S.

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