Nuclear Deal On Edge: New Centrifuge Rotor Factory Opens In Iran

Over a month after the United States’ unilateral decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Accord, Iran’s Nuclear Chief has declared that the country has opened a new Centrifuge Rotor Factory, used for Uranium Enrichment. Delivered to state news on Wednesday, this decision is part of Iran’s plan to expand its Enrichment program, as ordered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month. While the new factory is still permitted under the Iran Nuclear Accord, it sends a clear warning to its remaining members to be serious about the requirements of the deal.

During the briefing on Wednesday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi stated “Of course the [supreme leader] was completely informed and we gave him the necessary information at the time.  And now that he has given the order, this factory has started all of its work.” Expanding on this, Salehi also stated that Iran had increased its Uranium stockpile to 950 tonnes, an increase which remains within the legal limits of the Nuclear Accord standards.

Nuclear weapons are the most serious threat to global security and a nation’s possession of them can significantly shift the balance of power amongst states. Al Jazeera reports that Iran is prepared to presume its nuclear program if the current Nuclear Accord fails, which could have dire consequences in the future. The multilateral deal is therefore crucial to upholding international peace and security, as its ultimate goal is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by lifting its heavy sanctions. However, the Trump presidencies withdrawal from the program accentuates its current instability. The remaining signatory members of the deal, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, and China now play a crucial in holding the deal in place.

Iran had initially built the new factory during the Nuclear Accord’s negotiations, as a back-up if the agreement were to fail, Al Jazeera reports. Built at Iran’s Natanz facility, it plans to have rotors for up to 60 IR-6 centrifuges every day. While the highly concentrated uranium from these centrifuges can be used to create nuclear energy, a much larger percentage of it can be used to create a nuclear bomb. However, Al Jazeera reports that Iran has consistently claimed that its Enrichment program is purely to produce peaceful energy. Not having breached the Nuclear Deal, Iran’s new factory remains a warning of its potential nuclear capabilities.

The opening of Iran’s Centrifuge Rotor factory represents a growing uncertainty for the future of the Iran Nuclear Accord. The diplomatic role played by the remaining members of the deal is therefore crucial to ensure its future survival. While the unilateral decision of the United States to leave the deal has increased group tensions, it is vital that one states’ mistake does not affect the decisions of the rest. Rather, all members must work towards increasing trust and building on their multilateral efforts.