by: Kate Norman
Wednesday, 6 November 2019 | Iran announced that today it will take the fourth step in breaching its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal in response to the US pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on the Islamic regime.
In the newest transgressions of the crumbling nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran announced that it will resume nuclear development at an underground fuel enrichment plant and that it will enrich the uranium farther above the level set by the deal.
Israel will “fight back,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at an event in Jerusalem hours after the announcement.
“We will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons,” he vowed.
“This is not only for our security and our future,” the prime minister added, “it’s for the future of the Middle East and the world.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani revealed that the Islamic Republic will begin injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges—which are used to enrich uranium, potentially to weapons-grade purity—at its underground Fordo nuclear facility in the northeastern province of Qom. The head of Iran’s nuclear department, Ali Akbar Salehi, added that the regime will “enrich uranium to 5%,” Reuters reported.
The uranium enrichment limit set by the JCPOA is 3.67%, which is enough to meet civilian needs and far below the 90% purity required to make nuclear weapons.
Dr. Emily Landau, head of the arms control program at an Israeli think tank focused on national security, explained the significance of the most recent Iranian violation in a Twitter post.
“Iran’s breaches of the JCPOA are exposing the dangerous flaws in the deal, such as leaving [Fordo] open when it has no significance in the context of a civilian [nuclear] program,” she wrote.
Tehran began the process of stepping away from its nuclear limitations under the deal this past summer, rolling out different violations in phases. One of the first steps was to increase uranium enrichment to 4.5% this summer. The regime has also nearly doubled the amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile. This process of phasing outside of the nuclear limitations came a year after the United States pulled out of the deal—calling it “flawed”—and reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and metal.
Plunged into an economic crisis, Iran has responded by pressuring the remaining nations in the agreement to counteract the financial effects of the US sanctions—or Tehran warned that it will take further steps in violation of the accord.
Officials from the United States and Israel have deemed this move “nuclear extortion.”
“Iran has no credible reason to expand its uranium enrichment program, at the Fordo facility or elsewhere, other than a clear attempt at nuclear extortion that will only deepen its political and economic isolation,” said a US State Department spokesperson, as quoted by the Times of Israel.
“We will continue to impose maximum pressure on the regime until it abandons its destabilizing behavior, including proliferation-sensitive work,” the American official added.
The Iranian president in his announcement on Tuesday told “all the remaining sides with the JCPOA and other friendly countries” that the “new measures” would be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the international nuclear watchdog tasked with making sure the Islamic Republic adheres to its nuclear limitations set by the 2015 accord—and apparently tasked with watching up close as Tehran openly oversteps those limitations.
President Rouhani asserted that these next steps, like all the others, are “reversible.”
“As soon as the other sides to the agreement begin to live up to their commitments, we will resume our own suspended commitments as well,” he declared, as quoted by Iranian Fars News Agency.
The president also acknowledged the attempts by other countries to placate Tehran in an effort to stop today’s nuclear violations, essentially calling them good but not good enough.
“Some countries made efforts to reach positive results before the fourth deadline ran out, but we have no other choice but to take the fourth step starting [Wednesday],” Rouhani said.
Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon also condemned the Iranian violation and called for international action to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambition.
“Iran’s decision to increase uranium enrichment is an alarming violation of the nuclear deal,” Danon posted to Twitter. “Despite sanctions, the regime is proving it has always wanted nuclear weapons. The [international] community must act to avoid this. Israel will never allow the regime to obtain nuclear weapons.”
Posted on November 6, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 6, 2019)
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