Former IAEA consultant Behrouz Bayat told Radio Farda that these remarks about increasing enrichment while still abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal were designed specifically to rally support from his base, which includes the suppressive security forces.
Bayat said: “Khamenei wanted to pretend he was standing firm against international pressures. Khamenei tells domestic audiences that he is resisting what he always calls ‘the enemy,’ but he makes it clear to foreign audiences that he wants the enrichment to be limited to the framework of JCPOA.”
This apparently means that, although it seemed like Khamenei was threatening to pull out of the nuclear deal, nothing much has changed.
Bayat said: “This means Khamenei hasn’t decided yet whether to pull out of JCPOA.”
The Supreme Leader has repeatedly said that wants the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) to work within the framework of the Iran deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Even when he gave the orders for the IAEO to start enriching uranium at a wildly increased rate from June 15, he stressed that it was still “within the framework of [the] JCPOA”.
But you should know that while Iran is technically able to increase the uranium by that amount, it does not have the ability to do so because of another clause in the deal.
Bayat said: “It is not currently feasible because, in order to do this, Iran needs 190,000 centrifuges, while it cannot have more than 5,060 centrifuges based on the JCPOA. Iran could move toward that target after 15 years.”
Of course, other members of the government are giving much shorter timeframes, with the head of the IAEO Ali Akbar Salehi saying that it will only take two years.
He recently sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to reconfirm Khamenei’s boasts and say that Iran will act in accordance with the 2015 deal for as long as it is in place. He said that Iran would continue developing infrastructure for new centrifuges, including “a centrifuge assembly line, which takes two months to be built”, without violating the nuclear deal.
However, what’s really happening remains unclear. Iran can’t produce enough centrifuges to reach that level of enrichment without breaking the nuclear deal, but it is apparently creating more centrifuges within the deal to reach that level of enrichment. Is this just bravado or is Iran violating the deal? It’s probably a little of both.