Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi discussed Iran’s increase in uranium enrichment to 20% and a potential return to the JCPOA, on Iran’s Channel 2 TV on January 4, 2021. Regarding EU criticism of Iran's increased enrichment, he said that Europeans "have no right to speak," because it is not Iran that was in breach of the JCPOA, but the Europeans, by refraining from lifting the sanctions. Araghchi added that Iran's increased enrichment does not mean the "death" of the JCPOA, and it is "naturally reversible." Araghchi also said that Iran will not accept any conditions for America's return to the JCPOA, and it will not negotiate any changes to the agreement, and that "they can get the missiles issue out of their heads." Araghchi added that Iran will only decide whether it returns to the agreement if America implements its commitments completely and removes the additional sanctions imposed after it had left the JCPOA.
Interviewer: "In the recent hours, there was a reaction [to the renewal of 20% uranium enrichment.] Let's start with EU Spokesperson [Peter Stano], and I'm reading from the text. He said that this measure by Iran is a 'considerable departure' of Tehran's commitments in the nuclear agreement. Then he moves to a threatening tone, and says: 'We are waiting for the IAEA report and then we will take the necessary steps.'"
Abbas Araghchi: 'In my opinion, the Europeans have no right to speak. If this is a departure from the JCPOA, then by refraining from implementing their commitment to lift the sanctions they have completely departured from their JCPOA commitments.
"The Europeans should ask themselves how, in recent years, Iran had adhered to the JCPOA even though it has not benefited from the lifting of the sanctions. They should be grateful to Iran for that. Obviously, the JCPOA has produced strategic and political benefits for Iran.
"Even now, the enrichment to 20% is in keeping with a law ratified by the Majles. The Europeans, who view themselves as the cradle of democracy, should not complain about the implementation of a Majles law. If they want to preserve the JCPOA and believe that [enrichment] is a departure from the agreement, they should first correct their ways and their own violations. Then they will see that the Islamic Republic of Iran returns to fulfill its commitments, and the JCPOA will be preserved. The way to preserve the JCPOA is not by putting pressure on Iran to refrain from implementing its rights according to the agreement.
"Even now, the road to preserve the JCPOA is not blocked. [Enrichment] to 20% does not mean the death of the JCPOA. This measure of ours came in response to measures taken by them, and in response to their refraining from living up to their commitments. If they return to their commitments – the 20% enrichment is naturally reversible.
"Let me stress that the Islamic Republic of Iran will accept no condition for America's return to the JCPOA. Iran will not renegotiate the agreement. There will be no addition to the JCPOA. JCPOA Plus, adding issues to the agreement, extending the timetable – all of these are completely unacceptable to us. No other issues will be added for negotiations. No regional issues...They can get the missiles issue completely out of their heads. If they want to return to the JCPOA – no condition is acceptable to us. There are even issues about which the Islamic Republic of Iran has claims, and that needs to be clarified..."
Interviewer: "Like what?"
Araghchi: "There are several issues, like the snapback mechanism which has already been abused by America once.
"If [the U.S.] returns to the JCPOA, it must completely implement all the commitments it took upon itself, and in addition, it must lift the sanctions imposed after America had left the JCPOA. Only then will the Islamic Republic decide about returning to the agreement. If they do not return to the JCPOA in a complete manner, it is natural that the Islamic Republic will not return either, or not return completely."