Iran: we're completely done with the nuclear agreement

You had to know this was coming. Iran is done with the nuclear agreement it negotiated with the Obama Administration and the European Union. Via Islamic Republic News Agency aka the official Iran news outlet.

The cabinet said Iran will observe no restrictions in operational areas, including enrichment capacities, enrichment percentage, the volume of enriched material as well as research.

The cabinet further stated in its statement that as the fifth step to reduce its commitments, Iran will abandon the last key restriction in the operation field put up in the JCPOA literally “the limitations in the number of centrifuges”.

Thus, it added, Iran’s nuclear program will not face any kind of restrictions in such areas and will go on solely according to the country’s technical needs.

However, the cabinet stressed, Iran will continue cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as before.

Iran is ready to go back to its JCPOA commitments once the sanctions are removed and the country gets benefits from the nuclear deal, the cabinet announced.

According to the statement, cabinet assigned the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to take the necessary measures to this end in coordination with the Iranian President.

Iran took the fourth step of reducing commitments to the July 2015 nuclear deal November 6, 2019, by starting gas injection into the Fordow centrifuges.

It should be pointed out Iran had been going back on the deal since the Trump Administration announced it was abandoning the agreement, so this isn’t surprising. The cynic in me thinks Iran may have been looking for a reason to abandon the deal and the assassina-sorry-‘targeted killing’ of General Qassem Soleimani gave it an excuse.

It’s unsurprising Iran is keeping the door open to new negotiations with the EU while abandoning any sort of pretense of talks with America. This, unfortunately, helps the Trump Administration’s rhetoric of, “Hey, we’re interested in negotiations with Iran, if they behave,” meaning it Washington can use the Iranian’s decision to abandon the agreement as fodder for even tougher stances on the regime. The EU can trigger international sanctions if they want, per the agreement.

The European plan appears to be diplomacy, at the moment, although that could change per a report by Deutsche Welle:

“The chancellor, the French president and the British prime minister agreed to work together to reduce tensions in the region,” a German government spokesman said after Angela Merkel spoke with Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson on the phone.

Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, echoed those sentiments as he also called for a crisis meeting this week with fellow EU ministers.

“As Europeans, we have tried and tested and resilient channels of communication on all sides, which we must make full use of in this situation,” Maas said in a statement. “Our overriding interest is that Iraq’s stability and unity should not fall victim to the recent escalation.”

Iraqi President Barham Salih also is urging restraint from all sides with tensions flaring. Via Reuters:

The president stressed the importance of self restraint and wisdom in this critical time in order to contain the current crisis, protect the security and stability of the region, the sovereignty of its nations, and banish the specter of war and violence.

Salih is in a tough spot because he’s part of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party and is no Iranian puppet, unlike the accusations against caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. Salih is technically above Mahdi in the hierarchy, but the latter has a bit more power due to his role in the legislature. He can approve or disapprove the designation of prime minister nominees which is why Mahdi is still prime minister in name only. Salih did this last month over the nomination of Basra Governor Asaad al-Edani due to his suspected ties with Iran.

Caution is, again, needed as the U.S. and Iran inch closer to an all-out shooting war. Iran may have completely abandoned the agreement, but there’s no reason to think diplomacy might work again. If all sides are willing to speak with the other without doing their negotiations through various press statements or tweets.

It would also be wise for Congress to remember their role in this current climate. They are the only branch of government allowed to declare war. Any use of force authorization against Iran needs to go through them first. It would also be wise for the White House to remember, as the Obama Administration conveniently forgot in 2015, to send any diplomatic agreement aka treaty to the Senate for approval. Should diplomacy win the day. Which is honestly doubtful.