Iran informed European Union, Chinese, and Russian partners that in 10 days the Islamic Republic will exceed enriched uranium stockpile limits agreed to under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, popularly called the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Iran is prepared to violate the agreement in two ways; exceeding the volume of enriched uranium on standby and refining uranium to 20 percent purity. Iran claims to need enriched uranium for two nuclear power plants that are designed to produce medically-necessary radioisotopes for cancer treatment and research.
Iran is currently limited to 300 kG enriched uranium stockpiles and enriched uranium that does not exceed the fueling needs of power-generating nuclear plants, around 3.5 percent purity.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that EU partners could stop Iran from violating the terms of the deal, but only if those nations agree to violate sanctions imposed by the United States, who refused to certify Iranian compliance last year. The US withdrew from its commitments following Donald Trump’s election as president.
In 2018, Trump explained the decision to withdraw from participation by saying “the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.” Despite international inspectors stating Iran was in compliance, Israel and the US believe Iran has hidden research into the development of nuclear weapons.
Those who opposed the deal compare it to the failed Munich Agreement of 1935 that allowed Germany to gain a powerful position prior to the start of World War II.
Since US withdrawal, sanctions have been applied to curb Iran’s access to foreign banking markets and cut the ability of the nation to export oil, its primary commodity. Tensions between the two countries, however, have been on the rise.
Most recently, two oil tankers belonging to US allies and supplying necessary raw petrochemical products to Japan were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. US investigators pointed the finger at Iran, claiming the attacks were intended to destabilize the region. Iran believes it has a stronger bargaining position with EU member states than with the US and thus, according to US intelligence, the Islamic Republic is trying to force a greater EU presence in the region.
The Iranian military has promised to stop all shipping through the Persian Gulf, using military force as needed, unless the nation’s demands to end crippling sanctions are met or invalidated by EU partners.
EU member states have attempted to establish a financial channel to Iran primarily for the trade of food and medicine without success. EU regulators have warned that the banking system is not designed or intended to handle oil commodities trade and is an inappropriate financial option for violating US sanctions.
Opponents of the Iran Deal claim that an Iran with financial dominance of the region is more dangerous than a cash-strapped nation with nuclear capabilities.
Proponents of the deal, including former President Barack Obama and 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden, have held on to the belief that a financially stable Iran will voluntarily end the support of terrorism in the region and ease tensions with the nation’s greatest geopolitical enemy, Israel.
The US has accused Iran of continuing programs of terror, funding rebel groups around the region and supplying weapons used to attack civilian targets and damage or destroy military installations intended to monitor Iranian actions in the region.
The United States considers Iran to be the world’s leading supporter of terrorism. Iran is frequently accused of supplying weapons, resources, and troops to radical Islamic groups seeking to destroy and kill opponents of Iranian dominance in the region.