Iran Boosts Nuclear Activities
Iran announced this weekend that it had started further reducing its commitments to the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal; this, after the remaining parties to the accord – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – were unable to meet Tehran’s demand for financial relief. A spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency confirmed that his organization had “started lifting limitations on our research and development imposed by the [nuclear] deal… [which] will include development of more rapid and advanced centrifuges.” He qualified, however, that “all these steps are reversible if the other side fulfills its promises.” Specifically, the Islamic Republic is adamant that world powers devise a complex financial mechanism that would allow the regime to sell its oil on the open market in contravention of US economic sanctions. President Donald Trump gradually re-imposed those sanctions after withdrawing Washington from the nuclear agreement in May 2018. Since then, Iran’s economy has tanked, with its crude sales plummeting by over 80 percent. Last week, France proposed extending the mullahs a $15 billion line of credit to ease their financial burden, although the initiative did not materialize. Notably, the Iranian spokesman said that while the Islamic Republic retained the capacity to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity – a critical threshold on the way to producing the 90% fissile material required to build nuclear weapons – the country would not begin doing so at this stage.