Iran’s president declared on Wednesday that the country would stop complying with two of its commitments under the Iranian nuclear deal, pushing the growing confrontation between Washington and Tehran into new and potentially dangerous territory.
The announcement by President Hassan Rouhani came exactly a year after President Trump withdrew entirely from the 2015 agreement, which limited Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear fuel for 15 years.
But Mr. Rouhani did not follow Mr. Trump’s path and renounce the entire agreement. Instead, he notified European nations that he was taking some carefully calibrated steps, and that he would give Europe 60 days to choose between following Mr. Trump or saving the deal by engaging in oil trade with Iran in violation of American unilateral sanctions.
“The path we have chosen today is not the path of war, it is the path of diplomacy,” he said in a nationally broadcast speech. “But diplomacy with a new language and a new logic.”
Starting on Wednesday, he said, Iran would begin to build up its stockpiles of low enriched uranium and of heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors — including a reactor that could give Iran a source of bomb-grade plutonium. If the Europeans fail to compensate for the unilateral American sanctions, he said, Iran will resume construction of the Arak nuclear reactor, a facility that was shut down, and its key components dismantled, under the deal.
Mr. Rouhani then threatened a potentially more severe step. If the Europeans do not find a way to help Iran “reap our benefits,” especially in petroleum exports and banking transactions, in 60 days Iran will end the limits on the enrichment of uranium, he said. Currently, it is enriching small amounts, and only to a level of 3.67 percent, which is suitable for nuclear power plants — but not for nuclear weapons.
Without economic progress, he said, “we will not consider any limit” on enrichment, suggesting that it could rise to levels closer to something that could be used in weapons.
Iran always insisted that it had only a peaceful nuclear program, and wouldn’t need to enrich beyond the amount needed for nuclear power plants. This threat makes no sense – unless Iran still seeks to build the bomb.
The key question is whether Britain, France and Germany will take a hard line against Iran – or cave to their threats. Hopefully we will get some clarity soon.
A French source indicated that Europe would reimpose their own sanctions if Iran violates the JCPOA:
Europe would have to reimpose sanctions on Iran if Tehran reneged on parts of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, a French presidency source said on Tuesday.
Iran’s state-run IRIB news agency reported on Monday that Tehran would restart part of its halted nuclear program in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, but added Tehran does not plan to pull out of the agreement. Iran’s president is due to speak on Wednesday.
“We do not want Tehran to announce tomorrow actions that would violate the nuclear agreement, because in this case we Europeans would be obliged to reimpose sanctions as per the terms of the agreement,” the source said. “We don’t want that and we hope that the Iranians will not make this decision.”
France, Germany and Britain, the European signatories to the agreement that lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s atomic activities, have scrambled to save the deal amid U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran since it announced its withdrawal a year ago.
However, the three have repeatedly warned Iran that it must comply with all aspects of the deal and most importantly the elements related to nuclear activity.
Let’s hope so.
Meanwhile, the Iranian nuclear archives seized by Israel keep proving, over and over, that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program and hid it successfully for years.
Recently, it was revealed that the Fordow Enrichment Plant was built originally as early as 2002 to make weapon- grade uranium for 1-2 nuclear weapons per year.
An important discovery in the Nuclear Archive seized by Israel was substantial evidence that Iran was building an underground nuclear test site that was expected to be finished by 2004. Iran’s nuclear weapons program, code-named the “Amad Plan,” was developing and building five nuclear weapons, and this program wanted to be ready to test one, if a decision was made to do so. Starting in late 2000, Project Midan, the test program’s code name, created an extensive program to develop and construct an underground test site and instrument it so that the nuclear explosive yield could be determined.
The Iranian Nuclear Archive reveals that under its early 2000s nuclear weapons program known as the “Amad Plan,” Iran was developing and manufacturing a key nuclear weapon subcomponent called a “shock wave generator.” The shock wave generator is a multi-point initiation (MPI) system, which has the purpose of uniformly initiating a spherical shell of high explosives, or the “main charge,” which in turn compresses the nuclear core made from weapon-grade uranium to achieve a supercritical mass for a nuclear explosion.
All of this shows without a doubt that Iran was hiding its nuclear weapons program, and the West’s ignorance of that program did not allow it enough information to see what Iran was still hiding at the time of the nuclear agreement.
The NYT said, as fact, that “Iran scrupulously followed the deal” so far. It is important to note that the IAEA does not have the ability to fully certify that Iran is complying to the JCPOA even today.
Note to many journalists and arms control pundits: Even JCPOA supporter and respected NTI senior director, Richard Johnson, does not believe the IAEA makes a compliance determination for the JCPOA. https://t.co/9ClE5P7RV1
— Inst for Science (@TheGoodISIS) May 3, 2019
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