As Iran announced on Sunday that they had exceeded the level of nuclear fuel enrichment quality beyond the limits set under the 2015 nuclear deal with the major world powers, the United Kingdom officially declared that the Islamic Republic had violated the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “Iran has broken the terms of the JCPOA, following its announcement that it will start uranium enrichment above the 3.67% limit agreed in the nuclear deal,” said a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman in comments posted to the office’s website. “While the UK remains fully committed to the deal, Iran must immediately stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its obligations.”
Higher levels of enrichment for uranium are needed for certain types of nuclear power, higher-still for medical research, and 90% levels are needed for nuclear weapons. Iran’s recent withdrawal from restrictions under the JCPOA is ostensibly a reaction to Europe insufficiently providing Iran economic benefits under the JCPOA, following the renewal of American sanctions after the United States exited the deal in 2018.
The UK statement stopped short of calling for their own renewed sanctions on Iran—the agreed-upon consequence for violating the JCPOA—but did say they were coordinating with other members of the JCPOA “regarding the next steps under the terms of the deal.” In view of Iran’s actions and the lack of action so far in response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday had a simple question for the world powers— known as the P5+1—who negotiated the deal with Iran: “Where are you?”
Said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, “Iran has violated its solemn promise under the [United Nations] Security Council not to enrich uranium beyond a certain level. The enrichment of uranium is made for one reason and one reason only: It’s for the creation of atomic bombs. The leaders of the P5+1 promised and committed themselves to snap back sanctions the minute Iran did that. It just did. Where are you?”
Netanyahu wasn’t alone in questioning this inaction as Iran has now violated both the limits of the amount of nuclear fuel it is allowed to have under the JCPOA and the fuel’s enrichment quality.
Dr. Emily Landau, Senior Research Fellow and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at The Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, said on Twitter on Sunday, “Iran is holding strong international actors hostage. Says it will enrich to higher levels ‘according to its needs’. Hmmmm…what could those needs be? The lack of a harsh reaction to this Iranian craziness is unbelievable. Europeans are hitting rock bottom….”
In a follow-up tweet that reposted an article containing the comments from Europe in response to Iran’s steps, Landau tweeted, “European reaction to these Iranian steps must be much harsher.”
The Germans, for their part, stopped short of calling the Iranian moves violations of the JCPOA, but instead said they are “extremely concerned” about Iran’s enrichment announcement. “We had called upon Iran not to take further measures that undermine the nuclear deal,” said a statement released by a Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson. “We strongly urge Iran to stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments under the JCPOA, including the production of low enriched uranium beyond the respective JCPOA stockpile limit.”
Iran’s PressTV reported that a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behrouz Kamalvandi, announced on Sunday that Iran had exceeded the 3.67% enrichment level limit and would increase the enrichment as needed by their power plants. The PressTV report said Iran had previously indicated that 5% enrichment was needed for one of their power plants. Iran’s statements during the day, as reported by PressTV and the Fars News Agency, did not make it clear how high the enrichment would ultimately reach or when.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 7, 2019)