Iran threatens to quit global nuclear treaty and build a bomb

Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Iran threatens to quit global nuclear treaty and build a bomb

  • The fate of the 2015 pact has been in doubt since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out
  • The only country ever to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea

JEDDAH: Iran threatened on Monday to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), paving the way for construction of a nuclear bomb.

The threat is Iran’s latest gambit to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, and reimposed sanctions. In response, Iran began enriching uranium in breach of the agreement, in an attempt to put pressure on European states to save the deal.

That tactic backfired last week when Britain, France and Germany declared Iran to be in violation of the JCPOA, and triggered a dispute mechanism under which the issue will be referred to the UN Security Council, with full UN sanctions reimposed within 60 days.

“If the Europeans continue their improper behavior or send Iran’s file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Monday.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “The European powers’ claims about Iran violating the deal are unfounded. Whether Iran will further decrease its nuclear commitments will depend on other parties and whether Iran’s interests are secured under the deal.”

The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War. Signed by 190 countries, it bans signatories other than the US, Russia, China, Britain and France from acquiring nuclear weapons, in return for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programs for power generation, overseen by the UN.

The only country to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea, which expelled nuclear inspectors and openly tested atomic weapons. Nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and Israel never signed.

Iran “will quicken the pace of its nuclear program” if it quits the NPT, security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik told Arab News. It would also expose the extent to which Tehran had already breached the JCPOA, said Karasik, senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington DC.

“North Korea pulled out of the treaty in 2003 and of course went on to build nuclear weapons,” he said. 

“So Iran and North Korea would be in the same strategic box in terms of any possible further negotiating, because of the personal relationships between their nuclear scientists.

“In the wake of the Ukrainian passenger plane debacle, Iran’s decision-making in relation to the West and its neighbors is undergoing a shift toward more aggression.”


Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

Updated 26 September 2020

Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

  • Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018

TEHRAN: Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency.
IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital.
Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a US airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a US-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East.
After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July.
The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran.
Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018 after pulling the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. It said the two nations will discuss increasing the amount to $20 billion.
Before the current global pandemic, some 5 million Iranian pilgrims annually brought in nearly $5 billion visiting Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 443,000 thousand confirmed cases and at least 25,300 deaths.
A news website affiliated with Iranian state TV, yjc.ir, reported that Iran canceled all its flights to Iraqi cities until the religious holiday of Arbaeen, due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The holiday marks the end of the forty days of mourning that follow annually on the death anniversary of the seventh-century Muslim leader Hussein, who was killed at the Battle of Karbala during the tumultuous first century of Islam’s history.
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq that killed nearly 1 million people on both sides, after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in the early 1980s.