On Monday Iran’s state media outlet, IRNA, reported that Iran has breached the 300kg cap for enriched low-grade uranium set forth by the JCPOA (nuclear deal). Under the accord, Iran had agreed to these limits in return for relief from economic sanctions.
IRNA also said the regime would soon begin to enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% concentration limit. According to an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, “Tehran threatened this breakout if Europe didn’t do enough to circumvent U.S. sanctions, and now it’s daring the West to do something to stop it…The loud announcement of a nuclear breakout is intended to scare the world into coaxing President Trump to back off the sanctions pressure.”
This information was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog. IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl issued a statement which said: “We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the Agency verified on July 1st that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded 300 kg of UF6 enriched up to 3.67% U-235 (or the equivalent in different chemical forms).”
Late Monday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran had not violated the agreement. He claimed the agreement gave them the right to respond after Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.
We have NOT violated the #JCPOA.
Para 36 of the accord illustrates why:
We triggered & exhausted para 36 after US withdrawal.
We gave E3+2 a few weeks while reserving our right.
We finally took action after 60 weeks.
As soon as E3 abide by their obligations, we'll reverse. pic.twitter.com/bSxaMFaktH
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 1, 2019
(Note: E3 includes Germany, Britain and France; +2 adds Russia and China.)
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Abbas Mousavi commented on this latest development saying, “We told the Europeans that if more practical, mature and complete measures were taken, Iran’s reduction (to its) commitments could be reversed. Otherwise, we will continue.”
President Trump said, “They know what they’re doing. They know what they’re playing with. And I think they’re playing with fire.”
US maximum pressure is the root cause of tensions…We call on all parties to view this from a long term and overall perspective, exercise restraint and uphold the JCPOA (nuclear deal) together so that there won’t be further escalation in the tense situation.
Russia also blames the U.S. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov said “Iran was facing unprecedented and unthinkable US sanctions, including an oil trade embargo”…and called it “an attempt to strangle the country.”
The bigger question becomes, will Germany, Britain or France act? Judging from the statements made by European leaders, it would appear not. All responses basically call on Iran to reverse their stockpiling process and not to do this again. None of them have called for renewed sanctions because they want to continue trading with Iran. They refuse to give up their profitable business relationships with Iranian companies.
French President Emmanuel Macron “recalled his attachment to the full respect of the 2015 nuclear accord and asks Iran to reverse without delay this excess, as well as to avoid all extra measures that would put into question its nuclear commitments.”
According to Al Jazeera, the statement said “Macron would take steps in coming days to ensure Iran met its obligations and continued to benefit from the economic advantages of the deal.”
A German foreign ministry source told Reuters the country was “very concerned. We call on Iran to reverse this step and not to further undermine the nuclear agreement.” The source added that “Germany would carefully consider next steps together with other participants in the JCPOA.”
The EU and the UN issued similar statements, each asking Iran to comply with the agreement and to reverse the stockpiling process.
The WSJ editorial board wrote that many Europeans will “blame Washington more than Tehran” for this latest provocation. They wrote:
But it’s been clear all along that the regime has viewed the deal as a pause, not an end, to its nuclear ambitions. In 2016 the country overproduced heavy water, which the Obama Administration then purchased. Earlier this year the country’s top nuclear official acknowledged the regime had long been preparing to break out from the deal and pursue nuclear weapons.
Iran also ignores United Nations Security Council bans on missile tests and weapons sales. The regime maintains a destabilizing presence in Syria, plots terrorist attacks in Europe, and calls for the destruction of Israel. Its recent attacks on oil pipelines throughout the Middle East are part of a pattern that long preceded the U.S. maximum-pressure policy.
Iran’s actions should instead prompt Europe to join the U.S. in sanctions. Some in Europe are hoping Mr. Trump will lose his re-election bid and a Democrat will rejoin the nuclear accord. But we’ve learned enough about Iran’s behavior to know that the regime always intended to use the deal to finance its adventures abroad, while biding its time and getting stronger as it waits for the date it could escape the deal’s strictures and become a nuclear power.
Though it’s unlikely our European friends will stand with us against Iran, Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” appears to be working. In a recent post entitled “Trump Can Defeat Iran Without Firing a Single Shot,” I wrote that the daily loss of oil revenue to Iran caused by the existing sanctions is estimated at $120 million. That’s $3.6 billion each month or $43.8 billion per year.
Newt Gingrich appeared on Fox & Friends this morning to discuss Iran. (Video below.) He doesn’t believe there’s anything Iran can do to the Europeans “bad enough” to make them end their pro-Iranian posture because there’s too much profit there.
The problem for the Iranians is that the sanctions are really biting and month-by-month, their economy is getting worse. And people are getting more and more unhappy.
They are lashing out desperately trying to somehow change their circumstances by either getting us to back off or frankly by getting us to attack them. I think they think they could use nationalism to defend the homeland against Americans.
The best strategy is to “be calm, be patient, just continue to increase the pressure economically.” He thinks Iran is very close to breaking. “This is a very, very shaky regime.”
Sen. Tom Cotton was a guest on the show and brought up the importance of Iran’s control over the straight of Hormuz.
Gingrich first pointed out that the U.S. is energy independent. But, he said, Trump would be wise to talk to the Chinese, the Indians and the Japanese and say, “What are you going to do? You’re the countries that need the oil.” They need to put pressure on the Iranian government.
I think it’s safe to assume that neither Germany, Britain or France will act against Iran.
Still, the U.S. economic sanctions are working. And last week, President Trump’s executive order imposed new sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top government officials. Gingrich is correct that Iran has been lashing out desperately. In just the last three weeks, they’ve attacked two oil tankers passing through the Strait of Hormuz, shot down a U.S. drone and now the regime has announced they’ve violated the terms of the nuclear agreement.
The Iranians are angry. Let’s make them even angrier.