Iran is set to increase the levels of uranium enrichment if the E3 continues to renege their responsibility in the Iranian Nuclear Deal. According to Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran, taking the next step is the only logical move after Germany, France and Britain (or the E3) failed to protect the 2015 deal.
A gradual retreat from the JCPOA
In 2015, former US President Barack Obama marshaled world leaders towards a historic agreement with Iran to help ease tensions in the Middle East. As a result of the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was born. Popularly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, JCPOA obligated Iran to limit its uranium enrichment activities to 300 kgs.
But the entrance of President Donald Trump onto the international scene turned the clock back. Trump walked away from the deal and ramped up pressure on Iran via a salvo of sanctions. In response, Iran threatened to up its enrichment efforts as a way to guarantee safety against external aggression.
Speaking to government officials, Rouhani said the country would enrich uranium to the amount which they will feel is necessary. Initially, the JCPOA capped the enrichment to 3.67%, but Rouhani seemed to commit that they are willing to take that level way closer to weapons grade.
Rouhani advised the E3 to “go back to logic” and resume negotiations for a better deal. He urged the European nations to respect the resolutions of the UNSC. Otherwise, Iran does not intend to adhere to a single provision of the JCPOA.
Enrichment cap already breached
President Rouhani’s statements come barely days after Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said they have already breached the uranium enrichment cap. Zarif insinuated that the breaching of the cap is a direct response to a series of events which threaten war between Iran and the US.
In a statement, the International Atomic Energy Agency, an international nuclear watchdog, confirmed Zarif’s assertions. Notably, the IAEA said that its inspectors had evidence to confirm the uranium stockpile within the country was way above the 300 kg cap.