Araud referred, in his tweets, to a flaw in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 nuclear deal, which had long been cited by US officials. That flaw is the Sunset Clause, which allows some nuclear restrictions on Iran to expire in 2024, allowing the Regime to increase its number of centrifuges.
Many have questioned what this will mean for Iran’s right to enrichment in just five years’ time. There are other limitations that will stain place until 2040, but the limitations that expire in 2024 essentially means Iran will be able to return to the point it was at in 2015, which means that Iran’s nuclear programme has not slowed down that much.
But Araud angered Iran by suggesting that the Regime’s nuclear programme should be closely monitored by international organizations to prove it has no military implications and notes that Iran would not be allowed to enrich uranium in 2024 under the JCPOA.
This is not a new argument; Israel and the UK already made these points. In fact, the Sunset Clause was one of the reasons that the US pulled out of the nuclear deal in May 2018. Now many are calling for “a complementary agreement” that would require permanent restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme so that they could never begin a nuclear arms race in the Middle East; something that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned in the 12 conditions for an agreement with Iran.
Some believe that Iran is biding its time until Donald Trump leaves office, hoping that the next US President will be more lenient. But this will not work. The tide has turned and Iran looks more unfavourable by the day. Plus, they already tried this in 2004, with the Regime building up its centrifuges to gain the upper hand in negotiations with the West. It quickly abandoned this in 2014 in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iranian journalist Reza Haqiqatnezhad wrote: “The nuclear program that was supposed to be the key to the Islamic Republic’s power has turned into its Achilles’ heel.”