Josh Rogin reports:
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, said this week that if Iran decides to resume enriching uranium to levels prohibited by the new nuclear deal, it could begin to do so in one day’s time.
Araghchi spoke on Jan. 12 to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Channel 2 following his return from Geneva, where he led the Iranian delegation to the negotiations with the P5+1 countries that resulted in an agreement to implement the Joint Plan of Action signed last November. The interim agreement goes into effect Jan. 20, giving both sides six months to reach a final deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
Critics of the deal, especially in Congress, want any final agreement to force Iran to stop enriching uranium altogether and dismantle its enrichment program. The interim agreement requires Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium at 20 percent levels and downgrade their existing stockpile of highly-enriched uranium to lower levels. But Araghchi said in the interview that the enrichment suspension is quickly reversible if Iran decides to pull out of the agreement.
“We can return again to 20 percent enrichment in less than one day and we can convert the [nuclear] material again. Therefore the structure of our nuclear program is preserved,” said Araghchi, in a broadcast which was independently translated for The Daily Beast. “Whenever we feel the other side is not following through with its commitments, whenever we feel there are other motives involved, whenever—now, say, under pressure from Congress or something else—they take action against their commitments, say put in place new sanctions, we will immediately revert to the current status quo. And we will again continue our nuclear program in the form that it is today.”