Congress unlikely to change JCPOA: Jim Walsh

News ID: 4198928 -
TEHRAN, Jan. 14 (MNA) – Professor Jim Walsh from University of Massachusetts says “Mr. Trump wants Congress to make changes to an international agreement, which obviously Congress does not have the power to do. They include changing the sunset provisions and making a one year breakout time permanent.”

Dr. Walsh, who is a Research Associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program, said in an interview with Tehran Times that it is highly unlikely Congress will be able to do so.
Walsh, an expert in international security who has testified before the US Senate on Iran’s nuclear program, says “I'm pretty sure Iran will not accept permanent restrictions on uranium enrichment.”
Following is the full text of the interview:

US President Donald Trump approved the Iran nuclear deal only one more time before abandoning it if it is not going to be changed. What are the changes that Trump emphasize on them?

Mr. Trump wants Congress to make changes to an international agreement, which obviously Congress does not have the power to do.  They include changing the sunset provisions and making a one year breakout time permanent.
I think it is highly unlikely Congress will be able to do so.  They failed to act when they had the chance to do so following Mr. Trump's refusal to certify compliance.  If Congress were going to act, that would have been the time to do it, but the 60 day window came and went.
 

Mr Trump also wants Iran's ballistic missile programme to be addressed. Iran frequently has emphasized that ballistic missile is not related to JCPOA and will not negotiate about it. According to this, do you think that this condition means the end for JCPOA?

The missile issue is largely outside of the purview of the JCPOA, which is a nuclear agreement.  Accordingly, the US is free to take whatever actions it wants regarding missiles, and it would not be a violation of the JCPOA, as long as the US did not simply reinstitute the sanctions that were removed by the nuclear agreement.  But the legal ability to do something does not mean it would be wise to do so.  Iran has a missile program both b/c of its history (Iran-Iraq War), and b/c it feels it has a legitimate defense need given the threats and capabilities it faces in the region and its lack of air power. Personally, I don't think sanctions are likely to change those calculations and would be counter-productive.

The White House wants a deal with EU signatories to make restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment permanent. Under the current deal they are set to expire in 2025. Do you think EU will accept this condition? If so, Will Iran accept it?

Well, I'm pretty sure Iran will not accept permanent restrictions.  The parties to the agreement could collectively and by consensus agree to new or additional understandings about JCPOA, but obviously Iran is not going to accept unilateral concessions.  If the US wants something, then it will have to give up something or make a greater contribution than it is currently making.  And again, the EU, which is not inclined to renegotiate the deal has no power to do so on its own any more than Congress does.  Iran, China, and Russia would have to agree to any changes, and they would have to be endorsed or at least not in conflict with the UNSCR that accompanied the JCPOA.

By Javad Heirannia

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