At the beginning of the week, Iran breached the enriched uranium levels that it is bound to according to the nuclear deal, but warned yesterday that its stockpile would get closer to weapons-grade levels by the end of the week if the Europeans do not make good on their promises.
Iran warned that it does not feel obliged to adhere to the limits in the deal and would increase its uranium enrichment levels to “any amount that we want”.
Iran is currently under immense economic pressure because of the tough sanctions that the United States re-imposed after exiting the nuclear agreement. The Trump administration has continued to apply further sanctions since then and took the unprecedented action of designating the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO).
Analysts have previously estimated that Iran would need approximately one year to produce the amount of materials needed in order to end up with a nuclear weapon, but this recent news reduces the window to even less time.
Iran has, on many occasions, denied that it wants a nuclear weapon, but it is clear that its actions contradict this claim.
Iran shot down a US military surveillance drone and then publicly boasted about the huge cost to the enemy. The Trump administration called off a retaliation at the very last minute, but made it very clear that its maximum pressure campaign was going to continue.
The European leaders are finding themselves in a situation where they can no longer turn a blind eye to Iran’s belligerence. In recent months it has been calling it out for its malign actions, but has failed to take any decisive action.
Iran is trying to pressure the Europeans into something that will markedly alleviate the US sanctions, but it has been left disappointed by the action it has taken so far. A special purpose vehicle that the three EU countries set up is not going to produce the results that Iran is after.
Iran is trying to gain some leverage over the Europeans that have previously made it very clear that they want the nuclear deal to remain intact. But, they are not going to keep it in place at any cost. Especially if Iran is not abiding by its terms.