Last month, it was confirmed by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran had indeed enriched beyond the limits dictated by major powers.
Iran warned the remaining signatories of the deal that it would make this move if the Europeans failed to secure assistance to Iran with regards to the crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. The Iranian regime also threatened that it would return its heavy water plant back to the condition it was in before the JCPOA was agreed.
At the beginning of July, the IAEA that monitors Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA confirmed that Iran had exceeded the 3.67 per cent limit.
At the beginning of this week, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced that the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium has reached around 370 kilograms (70 kilograms more than it is allowed to stockpile according to the nuclear agreement).
A spokesperson for the AEOI, Behrouz Kamalvandi, warned that the country’s stockpile is “growing fast”. He also said that Iran is under no obligation to restrict its stockpile of heavy water. He said: “Although our heavy water exports are not big figures, we have diverse markets which include European and non-European countries. Iran should not lose any of these markets.” However, which countries he is referring to is unknown.
Despite the threats Iran made to the European signatories of the deal (the United Kingdom, France and Germany), they did not give in and refused to concede to Iran’s deadlines. The Trump administration, that exited the agreement last year, said that Iran’s threats should be considered as “nuclear extortion”.
Last year, the United States pulled out of the JCPOA, much to the dismay of the other signatories of the deal, especially the Europeans. The French, German and British authorities re-iterated their commitment to keeping the agreement intact and Iran clearly saw this as an opportunity to threaten them into counteracting the US sanctions.
It did indeed look like the Europeans were taking Iran’s side over the United States, but Iran’s deadlines were not respected and the Europeans were unable to deliver what Iran demanded.
Meanwhile, in contrast to the European appeasement policies towards Iran, the United States is continuing with its maximum pressure campaign that it vowed to undertake months ago. As well as losing a major portion of its revenue because of the restrictions on the sale of oil, the Trump administration has also sanctioned key regime figures including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In a message on Twitter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on all nations to take into account the fast-approaching expiration of the UN arms embargo on Iran and the imminent expiration of travel bans on key regime officials, highlighting that the Iran threat will worsen.