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Russia envoy: Iran may react even tougher if US leaves JCPOA again after deal revival

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov speaks to journalists outside the Grand Hotel Wien after the closed-door talks in Vienna on June 20, 2021, on the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. (Photo by AFP)

Russia’s permanent representative to the international organizations in Vienna says Iran may react even tougher than before if the United States makes the mistake of leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement again after the agreement's revival.

“Many followers ask if there is a guarantee that US wouldn’t leave #JCPOA after its restoration,” Mikhail Ulyanov wrote in a tweet on Thursday, referring to the nuclear deal by its official acronym.

Ulyanov added, “To my mind the best guarantee is extremely negative experience of the past. If #US repeats the previous mistake #Iran may decide to reciprocate even tougher. Nobody would like it.”

The US nixed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 under former US President Donald Trump’s administration, followed by the harshest rounds of sanctions intended to destroy Iran’s economy.

Reminded by a user that the plan to prevent such a move didn’t work the first time, Ulyanov gave an affirmative response, but added that the international community is now aware of the “catastrophic results” of Washington’s so-called maximum pressure against Tehran, which persuaded the Islamic Republic to advance its nuclear program beyond JCPOA limits.

He further noted that the June session of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors showed that the international community, including the US, is extremely unhappy with the current situation.

“This is the best (not absolute, of course) guarantee against its repetition,” added Ulyanov, who heads Russia’s delegation in the ongoing Vienna talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA.

Ulyanov’s remarks come days after the sixth round of the talks concluded on Sunday, as negotiators for Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — decided to return to their respective capitals for consultations to overcome the remaining differences.

The sides to the talks have voiced optimism to reach an agreement in the near future on how to bring all original parties to the JCPOA – first and foremost the US – back into compliance with the deal.

Iran says if the efforts fail to secure an agreement by the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s term in August, the new Iranian administration will be in charge of deciding the future of the negotiations.

“In case the other parties are ready, the [Rouhani] administration has no problem with concluding the talks, but if no deal is finalized for any reason by the end of the 12th administration’s legal term, then the 13th administration [of Ebrahim Raeisi] will be in charge of the negotiations and taking a decision about their details,” Ali Rabiei, the spokesman for the outgoing Rouhani administration, told reporters at his weekly press briefing on Tuesday.

Asked on Twitter whether his remarks were “backroom advice” to Iran to take bolder measures in case of another US withdrawal from the nuclear pact, Ulyanov responded in the negative, asserting that his prediction of Iran’s action was, rather, “an advice and a reminder to #US hardliners.”

Meanwhile, President-elect Raeisi has emphasized that the US must return to full compliance with the JCPOA and fulfill its commitments under the accord in order for Iran to do the same.

“European countries and the United States must look and see what they have done to the JCPOA. The United States violated the JCPOA while European countries failed to comply with their obligations,” Raeisi said on Monday during his first press conference after his landslide victory in the June 18 election.

The president-elect also said the Iranian nation is not satisfied with the JCPOA as it has failed to deliver on its promises, adding that his administration will not pursue attritional talks on the deal.

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