November 8, 2019 - 14:43 AMT
Iran under domestic pressure to abandon nuclear treaty: envoy

The Iranian government is under growing domestic pressure to pull out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty next year, the country’s ambassador to the UK has said, The Giardian reports.

Hamid Baeidinejad said it was government policy to remain in the treaty but there were growing calls to pull out next year, when it is due for renewal, as it required Iran to make one-sided commitments.

“There are views by some circles, some personalities, that Iran has not benefited from membership of the [treaty] and it is time to withdraw,” he said, adding that Iran remained committed on religious grounds to not developing nuclear weapons.

Iran is a founding member of the treaty, which is aimed at achieving disarmament by nuclear-armed states. Three non-signatories – Israel, India and Pakistan – have nuclear weapons.

This week the Iranian government took a fourth step in reducing its adherence to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which has been unravelling since Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal last year and reimposed sanctions. Iran announced on Tuesday it was injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at its Fordow plant, a move that dramatically increases its enrichment capacity.

Baeidinejad said the advocates of withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty asked why Iran should be submitting to UN atomic agency verification of its programme when other countries did not recognise Iran’s right under the treaty to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The ambassador’s warning about the demands of hardliners within Iran could be taken as a signal to Europe not to respond to Iran’s recent actions by pulling out of the 2015 deal altogether.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has said the uranium enrichment at Fordow is the most serious breach yet of the deal. France, Germany and the UK are consulting on how to respond, including whether to trigger the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, a step that could lead to a return of UN sanctions.