Michael Cardinal, FISM News
On Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran is making small amounts of uranium metal, which can be used as a nuclear weapon core. This comes in direct violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that they signed in 2015.
The JCPOA was a deal made between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. Under this agreement Iran would stop production of uranium, and the group of nations would lift economic sanctions upon the country. For years prior to this agreement, the world speculated on Iran’s nuclear capabilities – a goal which they have denied – and were fearful that if Iran were able to gather the technology to build nuclear weapons, that they would not abide by the same rules as other countries that possess nuclear weapons.
In 2018, however, President Donald Trump removed America from this deal and reinforced strict banking and oil sanctions that crippled their economy. Trump stated that his reasoning for abandoning the agreement was that this deal did not do enough to prevent Iran from developing weapons, was contingent on Iran being truthful, and filtered American money to a country that funds terrorism.
After America’s withdrawal, Iran made several moves that left the deal near collapse, even though they officially remained in the nuclear agreement with five other countries. One such move came in January when Iran announced that they were returning to 20% uranium enrichment, which was far above the 3.6% allowed under the nuclear deal, but less than the 90% required for nuclear weapons. However, nuclear experts say that it is much easier to ramp-up uranium enrichment once you meet the 20% threshold.
President Joe Biden has said that he plans to return to the deal, but only if Iran returns to compliance of the stipulations of the JCPOA. This has lead to a virtual face-off with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatolloah Ali Khamenei who is demanding that the US lift all sanctions first. Khamenei stated,
Iran has fulfilled all its obligations under the deal, not the United States and the three European countries … If they want Iran to return to its commitments, the United States must in practice … lift all sanctions.
President Biden has confirmed that the US has no intent of making concessions, demanding that Iran make the first move by returning to strict compliance and rolling back enrichment programs.
Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tried to add pressure to Biden by saying, “Time is running out for the Americans” in a recent news interview. Iran intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, also remarked that Iran may be forced to develop nuclear weapons if they remain “cornered” by “the West.” This is one of the first public admissions that Iran has considered nuclear weapon development.
This high-stakes game of chess has both sides waiting on the other to concede.