In turn, Iranian figures like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani have responded by doubling down on those provocations, insisting that Tehran will cancel the deal if it does not receive additional economic concessions from the United States. It has already been reported that Larijani announced via Iranian state media that the Islamic Republic has no way forward by to “counteract” what he suggests are acts of aggression by the West. This supposed aggression includes the UN report itself, which the Iranian Foreign Ministry accused of being the result of “open pressure” from the US.
Now, the Free Beacon adds that Larijani has gone beyond mere rhetoric statements and has actually directed the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization to prepare a plan for resuming full-scale nuclear enrichment activities, so as to reclaim or even exceed the levels of enrichment that were taking place before the JCPOA began to go into effect. This threat is sure to contributing to tensions that have already been running high in the wake of this week’s Associated Press report detailing pre-existing Iranian plans to exploit sunset provisions in the nuclear deal in order to greatly expand the country’s enrichment capabilities 10 years from now.
The JCPOA itself technically lasts 15 years, so the revelation of these plans has led many skeptics to conclude that the deal and Iran’s commitment to it are even weaker than previously assumed. In fact, the Free Beacon noted that at least one US Congressman, Illinois Republican Representative Peter Roskam, had declared that the newfound documents invalidate the entirety of the nuclear agreement.
In light of this perspective, harsh critics of the JCPOA can be expected to look upon Iran’s more recent provocations as an entirely separate matter. The deal’s defenders have been variously accused of dealing very softly with those provocations in order to avoid imperiling the longevity of nuclear implementation. But those who see the deal has having already been invalidated will presumably recognize no such utility in a diminished response to aggressive or illicit behaviors.
One can therefore expect that some US lawmakers will urge a harsh response to planned Iranian war games that are specifically aimed at presenting an image of readiness for conflict with Western powers. Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported on Thursday that IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari had announced plans for such war games to continue through the duration of the current Iranian year, which ends in March of 2017. The stated goal of those activities is to develop “such good level of military preparedness that [the IRGC naval forces] can send the US warships to the bottom of the Persian Gulf.”
Such statements seem to follow upon the Foreign Ministry’s harsh reaction to criticisms in the UN report. But at the same time that the resulting rhetoric arguably imperils the nuclear agreement, it also ignores the fact that the UN Secretary General has also made statements urging the US and other participants in the JCPOA to assure that the deal has positive economic effects for the Islamic Republic. These aspects of Ban’s comments were reported by Ya Libnan on Thursday, and they indicate that the international body is making efforts to remains sensitive to both American and Iranian criticisms of the other side.
But whereas the White House has reached out to Iran’s potential European investors and has even been accused of overreaching in its efforts to fully implement the nuclear deal, Iran’s provocative behaviors and refusal to compromise have not diminished during the period of implementation. Quite the contrary, by most accounts the anti-Western rhetoric pouring out of Tehran has only intensified in the months since the deal went into effect. And Jafari’s latest announcement seems only to reaffirm that conclusion.