…by Press TV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: Iran plays its “taking the middle ground” card today. I have not heard a peep about this issue of importing and exporting arms, that I can recall. This is what happens when you don’t read the entire JCPOA document from A to Z.

The new question is if Iran is self-sufficient in arms production and does not need to buy anything, then what does it plan to sell, and to whom?

Like the Russians, Iran has a low cost of production, so weapons sales on the international market can bring in hard currency funding to support ongoing research and/or to supplement its own domestic defense needs, a win-win either way.

I would suspect that new US sanctions would be passed in a jiffy to prevent this, as in an election year, both political parties will want to appear tough on Iran, knowing the Israeli Lobby will be watching them.

With the story yesterday about Iran wanting to supply peaceful nuclear technology assistance to neighboring states, and not excluding anyone in the announcement, this would put Rouhani in competition, for example, with the Russians who have offered to assist the Saudis in a nuclear power construction effort, which it needs like a hole in the head with all of its cheap oil for power.

Some have wondered why Russia would assist in what many consider to be a nuclear destabilizing effort in the region, when Russia has a good record of avoiding such things. There is a missing piece of the puzzle here.

The Israelis will of course go berserk and cry the sky is falling and that the end of the world is upon us, while never mentioning a word about their own undeclared weapons of mass destruction program, or whom it might currently be working with, as in Saudi Arabia to have their own nukes, also undeclaredJim W. Dean ]

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An early Israeli nuclear pit – photo Mordecai Vannunu

[ Note: This is Vanunu’s lastest message up on his website: “The only thing I can say is, that 33 years to wait for my freedom is a long, long time for all the world, states, communities, to do for my freedom.” ]

– First published … November 11, 2029

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran intends to stay in the 2015 nuclear deal despite US violations, arguing that the accord will be put to good use next year when a long-running arms embargo against Tehran comes to an end.

Rouhani said Monday Iran could respond to America’s exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in different manners, including leaving the deal altogether or keeping it at any price, but it decided to take the middle-ground option.

“By continuing the JCPOA, we will fulfill a major objective in terms of politics, security and defense,” he told a large crowd of people during a visit to the eastern province of Kerman.

Noting that for years Iran has been banned by the United Nations from buying and selling any kinds of weapons, Rouhani said the arms embargo will end next year according to the deal and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses it.

“This is one of the important effects of this deal. Otherwise, we could leave the deal today but the kind of benefit we stand to reap next year will no longer exist,” he said.

“We can leave now but then the UNSC resolutions [that were revoked under the deal] will return,” the president said, adding “We need to think where do the country’s interests lie.” 

Iran, he said, did not want to stay fully committed to the deal while the others “sit on their hands” and do nothing.

“Therefore we took the middle ground to keep the JCPOA and preserve it while cutting back on what we had agreed to do under the agreement step by step,” he said.

Since May, Iran has been scaling down its nuclear deal commitments in retaliation for Washington’s 2018 pullout from the deal and the failure of three European signatories — the UK, France and Germany — to protect bilateral trade against American sanctions.

In the first three stages of its measured response, Iran enriched uranium beyond the 300kg limit set by the deal and ramped up enrichment to levels upon the pre-defined 3.67-percent cap. It also expanded nuclear research to areas banned in the agreement.

The fourth step, which was unleashed last week, was the injection of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into centrifuges at the Fordow underground enrichment facility.

Tehran says its reciprocal measures do not violate the JCPOA and are based on Articles 26 and 36 of the agreement itself, which detail mechanisms to deal with non-compliance. Iranian authorities have suggested that the measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the Iranian economy from the sanctions.

Rouhani said Monday Iran’s nuclear capability is “better than ever,” noting that Iranian nuclear experts have never stopped research and development work since the JCPOA was first signed in 2015.

“We will stand up to our enemies with full power. We haven’t done anything illegal and we are not willing to bow to your orders,” he said.

Touching on disparaging statements by Western countries, Rouhani said, “Are you mad we restarted Fordow? Are you mad with the resumption of nuclear enrichment? Are you mad at us for speeding up the Arak heavy water [facility]? Then you should fulfill your commitments as well.”

Germany, France and Britain were to meet in Paris on Monday to discuss how to respond to Iran stepping back from its commitments under the accord, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

“We are very concerned to see that there are other uranium enrichments that Iran has not only announced, but is also carrying out,” Maas said as he arrived for talks with fellow EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“We want to preserve the JCPOA but Iran will have to return to his obligations and comply with them. Otherwise we will reserve for ourselves all the mechanisms laid down in the agreement,” he said.

Maas was apparently threatening to trigger a dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal, which could open the way to renewed UN sanctions.

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