Did Iran just violate the 2015 nuclear deal?

Did Iran just violate the 2015 nuclear deal?

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Negotiators announce the Iranian nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria in July 2015. Courtesy: Dragan Tatic / Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres
Negotiators announce the Iranian nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria in July 2015. Courtesy: Dragan Tatic / Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres

Iran contends European countries broke the deal first by failing to give Iran the economic benefits it deserved for accepting limits on its nuclear program.

UNITED NATIONS – A new week brings a new threat to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Iran said Monday it has now stockpiled more low-enriched uranium than is under the terms of the agreement.

The nuclear deal requires Iran possess no more than 300 kilograms – around 661 pounds – of low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. While that uranium can’t be used in a weapon, it’s being closely monitored in case Iran started enriching it to weapons-grade levels.

After several years of complying, Iran it changed course this Spring, when it demanded the European signatories of the nuclear deal – France, the U.K., and Germany – maintain economic ties instead of bowing to U.S. pressure to isolate the country.

On Monday, Iran said it was done waiting and announced it let its stockpile exceed the 300-kilogram limit.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly condemned that move as part of an alleged Iranian plot to “advance its nuclear ambitions,” but is Iran really to blame?

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif argued it wasn’t, and that France, the U.K., and Germany failed to trigger a dispute resolution mechanism within the nuclear deal designed to give Iran a fair hearing if it believed it was being unfairly treated.

So what’s next? European countries say a new financial clearinghouse that keeps trade with Iran beyond the reach of American regulators is ready for business, but Iran is skeptical it will get the economic relief it thinks it deserves. And if that’s the case, Iran is threatening to intensify its uranium enrichment – a move likely to trigger a new nuclear proliferation crisis, regardless of who’s to blame for getting there.

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