Iran breaches 2015 nuclear deal, but says open to follow guidelines if US lifts sanctions
On Tuesday, UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has surpassed its assigned uranium-enrichment limit. The assessment carried out earlier this week proved that Tehran violated its commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal. In its recent report, the IAEA stated: “On 14 November 2020, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding UF6 into the recently installed cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz.”
As per the current deal, Iran can accumulate enriched uranium with only first-generation IR-1 machines, to operate the underground plant. But the IAEA reported that the Islamic Republic had been putting in uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas feedstock into advanced IR-2m machines. As per the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPoA, which US President Donald Trump exited in May 2018, Iran could only use about 6,000 IR-1s. IAEA officials found that Tehran has been using 174 of its IR-2ms, and it has over than 1,000 of those, which is way above the limit.
Post the examination of Iran’s nuclear sites, including Natanz, where it has installed its underground nuclear plant, IAEA expressed dissatisfaction towards Tehran’s explanations for how and why certain prohibited nuclear particles were found at sites which should not have been present. Iran later admitted to the breach of nuclear agreement, justifying the move was a fair reaction to US severe sanctions, which crippled its economy.
In an interview published on Tuesday the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, clarified Iran’s approach to talks with a Biden administration. He said: “If the US implements its commitments under the UN security council resolution 2231, we will implement our commitments under the JCPoA. This can be done automatically and needs no negotiations. But if the US wants to rejoin the JCPoA then we will be ready to negotiate how the US can re-enter the deal.”
With Joe Biden succeeding Trump as the US President, Iranian leader expressed hope in getting sanctions lifted and renegotiating the nuclear deal. Unlike Trump’s plan to exert maximum pressure on Iran and push it towards isolation for implementation of nuclear non-proliferation, Biden proposed a “credible path back to diplomacy.” Biden strongly believed that the 2015 accord, “blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon”, hence he expressed his willingness to re-enter the agreement.