Iran has breached the limit of the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium it is allowed to have. Imposed on Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for the relief of international economic sanctions, Aljazeera reported that Iran had surpassed the 300kg cap with plans to enrich the uranium above the 3.67 per cent limit in the accord. Tensions have bubbled after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal, reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran, and sent in a slew of American military aircraft and troops in the Middle East. In retaliation, the Iranian government shot down an American military surveillance drone that had allegedly violated its airspace.
Trump warned that Tehran was “playing with fire” by exceeding its uranium reserves limit, to which Iranian parliament speaker, Ali Larijiani, retorted, “Mr Trump should understand that when one uses bullying language against a civilised nation, they become united.” He also warned of other countries in the region against joining any American coalition, saying “if they rally against us, they will have to pay the price for it.”
China, in a rare case of solidarity with the Western powers, expressed its regret but urged all sides to show restraint, citing the U.S. policy of pressuring Iran as the “root cause of the current tensions.” On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron declared in a statement “his attachment to the full respect of the 2015 nuclear accord and asks Iran to reverse without delay this excess, as well as avoid all extra measures that would put into question its nuclear commitments.”
Despite the high-level nature of these exchanges between state leaders, it is the average Iranian citizen that experiences the impact of this fallout. The economic hardlines have resulted in Iran’s GDP shrinking by 4.9% in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to the Economist. Additionally, factors such as slowing industrial production, food prices tripling more than three-fold, and limited access to medical supplies further contribute to the suffering of the average Iranian.
Trump’s hard-line policy of brinkmanship with a reactionary and increasingly isolated Iran is hurtling towards a policy of aggression, where increasing hostility, miscalculated risks and pre-emptive defence policies are the deciding factors at play. What needs to happen is calming tensions, re-opening of dialogue channels, and introducing multilateral conflict mediators to bring America and Iran back from the brink of war.
The Iran nuclear deal was created in 2015 involving a group of the world powers, the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany, known as the P5+1. According to the BBC, it came in response to Iran’s attempts to build a nuclear weapon. The terms of the deal stipulated that Iran must limit its sensitive nuclear activities, including limiting its uranium stockpile to 300kg as well as its enrichment to below 3.67%, as well as allowing international inspectors to ensure Iran’s compliance. In exchange, crippling economic sanctions would be lifted. The UK, Germany and France, who all opposed the sanctions, attempted to mitigate the tension by instating an alternative mechanism to allow European firms to bypass American sanctions. Despite its best efforts, preparations to instate INSTEX, as it’s known, had fizzled as few businesses were unlikely to jeopardise their access to America’s market.
To conclude, Trump’s tactics of challenging his adversary to the point of no return may work in the world of business but is detrimental to the safety and peace of global politics. Opening up dialogue channels with a future-focus and a commitment to upholding a policy of non-proliferation is necessary to retreat from a devastating policy of warfare. Additionally, reverting back to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal which had “significance for the strengthening of the [nuclear] non-proliferation regime”, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, would be the best point of call. Both sides must approach these discussions in the spirit of cooperation and compromise, only then will then peaceful talks ensure the continued prosperity for both nations.
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