TEHRAN – Iranian lawmakers have called on President Ebrahim Raisi to obtain assurances from the United States and three European countries that they will not withdraw from the nuclear agreement being revised in Vienna, the Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister said the new agreement is less stringent than the previous agreement.
Negotiators from Iran and other parties to the agreement – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are working to restore the 2015 agreement, which allowed Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for limiting its nuclear program.
The United States was indirectly involved in the negotiations because it withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.
The Iranian Parliament’s news agency ICANA reported that 250 lawmakers in a statement called on Raisi and his negotiating team to obtain assurances from the United States and three other European countries that they will not withdraw from the agreement after the revision.
Under Trump, the United States again imposed harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Tehran has responded by increasing the purity and amount of uranium it enriches and accumulates, in violation of the agreement – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program is peaceful. But the country’s steps from its commitments under the agreement have alarmed its sworn enemy Israel and world powers.
Tehran has begun enriching uranium to 60% purity – a short technical step of 90% needed to build an atomic bomb, and is spinning much more advanced centrifuges than those allowed under the deal.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told participants in the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday that the talks had come a long way in the last 10 months and “all the elements for concluding the talks are on the table”. But he also criticized Iran for stepping up its enrichment and limiting inspections by UN nuclear observers.
Iran’s foreign minister said Western countries should show flexibility and “the ball is now in their court.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that the new agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was less tough than the previous agreement, which Israel strongly opposed. He called on the negotiators to take a tough stance against Iran in the current round of talks.
“The new deal that is emerging is shorter and weaker than the previous one,” he told a cabinet meeting.
He said the agreement would allow Iran to hold back its nuclear activities for two and a half years instead of 10 years under the previous agreement, which gives Iran lifting sanctions only for a brief slowdown in its nuclear activities. After that, he said, Iran could design and install “centrifuge stadiums.”
Bennett said the lifting of sanctions would free up money that Iran would use to fund its proxies along Israel’s borders.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Ganz said during a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that steps should be taken to ensure that Iran does not continue to enrich uranium at additional facilities and “supervision should be strengthened.”
“A nuclear deal, if signed with Iran, does not mean the end of the road,” he said.
Israel has watched anxiously as negotiations continue. Israel considers Iran its greatest enemy and has strongly opposed the 2015 agreement.
It says it wants an improved agreement that imposes tighter restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and considers Iran’s long-range missile program and its support for hostile proxies along Israel’s borders, such as Lebanese militant Hezbollah.
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