The government of Iran has recently stated that it will soon surpass the limit of low-enriched uranium that was internationally agreed upon in its 2015 nuclear deal. Now the pressure on the remaining signatories to save the deal is at an all-time high. According to CNN, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said last week that the country will reach the 300kg limit on enriched uranium on June 27, just four days from now. This comes just one month after Iran stated that it would limit its compliance with certain parts of the nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA. The United States already withdrew from the agreement completely last year. Under said agreement, Iran would limit its production of nuclear materials and in return, international sanctions against the country would be lifted. However, on May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a statement saying that the remaining signatories of the agreement (United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, France, and China) had just 60 days to step in and protect the countries assets from the continued pressure from U.S. sanctions. At the time of this article’s publication, none of these countries have acted on these demands.
When questioned further about Iran’s nuclear activities, Kamalvandi stated, “We will go further from that ceiling, not only that but we will also increase production drastically. After we pass the limit of 300kg the pace and the speed of enriched uranium production at the lower rate will also increase.” Despite this, many Iranian officials have stated that passing the limit should not be cause for international concern. “The aim is to increase the bargaining leverage and to put increasing pressure on Europe,” said Ali Fathollah Nejad from the Brookings Doha Center. This is more symbolic than substantial because Iran is not going to commit any violation. They’re going to go as far as possible to the threshold but won’t break it because they’ll lose European support. And for now, this is not the Iranian strategy. Despite this, the threat of Iran increasing their nuclear capabilities has caused further panic from countries not even in the JCPOA. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Iran should be hit with even further sanctions if it breaks the agreement. “Should Iran make good on its current threats and violate the nuclear agreement, the international community will need to immediately impose the sanctions regime that was agreed upon in advance, the snapback sanctions,” said Netanyahu.
Because of Iran’s actions in recent months, tensions between it and the international community have reached their highest points in decades. Although America’s departure from the agreement in 2018 was part of the catalyst that set these events into motion, it is Iran that continuously threatens to violate said agreement while still being a member of the JCPOA. Because of this, they are betraying the trust of several world superpowers, something that can only lead to conflict. In addition, the country’s military actions such as shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone and attacking an American tanker have made it seem that a possible international military conflict is on the horizon, something that all parties involved should be desperately trying to avoid. Because of this, Iran deserves to be harshly condemned and should be expecting further sanctions from not only the U.S. but several of the other signatories of the nuclear agreement.
As previously stated, this move by Iran comes at a time of great international tension in the Gulf region. Last week, the U.S. blamed Iran for two attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, allegations that the country vehemently denies. Instead they claimed that the U.S. staged the attack due to the “failure of its harsh sanctions.” Despite this, U.S. officials claim that the evidence is “unmistakable” and have received support from both Great Britain and Saudi Arabia in light of escalating tensions.
What exactly happens next is unclear. As the June 27 deadline rapidly approaches, several powerful nations are beginning to mount their sanctions against Iran. If Iran backs down and honours the nuclear agreement, tensions could potentially start to deescalate, though that seems unlikely. Peace should be the ultimate goal of all the involved parties, but Iran’s actions as well as the heavy sanctions by the U.S. are making it increasingly difficult for peace to be achieved. It is time for the international community to step up to the plate, put differences aside, and make sure that this completely avoidable conflict never happens.
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