Tehran does what Tehran wants- analysis

Iran is saying that the EU and Russia must find a way to do what Iran wants

By
November 6, 2019 22:10
3 minute read.
People attend a public speech of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the southern Hormozgan province

People attend a public speech of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the southern Hormozgan province, Iran, February 17, 2019. (photo credit: OFFICIAL KHAMENEI WEBSITE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

By injecting UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) gas into centrifuges at its Fordow enrichment facility, Iran is showing that it will not bend to US “maximum pressure.” This comes amid new sanctions the US has promised, including recently announced sanctions on nine key Iranian officials. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran was responding to the US “blackmail” by “doing the opposite.”

This means Iran is seeking to inject uranium gas into centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility. It is the fourth step Iran has taken to walk away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – or “Iran deal” – that was signed in 2015 but which the US left in 2018. Iran’s oil exports have collapsed to 125,000 barrels per day of exports, which is 20 times less than before the maximum pressure campaign. Iran wants to export 2.5 million barrels a day.

Iran said in September it will continue to develop centrifuges, and the US has refused to work on a French initiative to broker a new agreement. In July, Iran broke the 3.67% enrichment limit that was imposed by the JCPOA, and hinted it could head to 20% enrichment. So far, it is around 4.5%. It also said it would exceed the stockpile limit of 300 kg. Iran is also working on a new group of 30 IR-6 centrifuges, it said in October.

The new injection will affect some of Fordow’s 1,044 centrifuges. Fordow was key to the JCPOA. Iran was supposed to refrain from any uranium enrichment, and research and development at Fordow. The International Atomic Energy Agency is supposed to supervise the facility. Iran was supposed to convert the facility into a nuclear technology center. The 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges there would remain in one wing of the center. Of the six cascades of centrifuges, which are used to perform isotope separation of gases, some were to be placed in an idle state and others were supposed to produce stable isotopes. Press TV in Iran said the injection of gas would begin Wednesday. Just before noon, it announced the process had started. US Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both expressed concern. They argue for returning to the Iran deal.

Iran’s gamble with the gas injection and being transparent about what it is doing reveals that Iran is not seeking a clandestine path to a nuclear weapon. It is showing that it has a right to do this because the US has left the Iran deal. The message is that the deal gave Iran a right to do whatever it wants if the US and others do not do what Iran wants. In a sense, this is nuclear diplomacy. It comes amid major tensions with Israel, and also anti-Iran protests in Iraq. This means that Iran wants to show that when it comes to nuclear diplomacy, it can hold the world hostage. The EU and Russia are also concerned about Iran’s latest moves.

As such, Iran is saying that the EU and Russia must find a way to do what Iran wants. That means helping it get around US sanctions. The message to the US is that sanctions are not working. However, Iran is saying that it will show off its enrichment as a way to showing off that it is succeeding where the US is failing to stop it. Iran will now begin working with up to 5 kg. of enriched uranium a day.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA says Iran could start injecting uranium hexaflouride into centrifuges at Fordow. Iran already had 5,000 kg. of low enriched uranium in 2012. Iran’s focus on details and numbers is all about pressuring the West and being overly transparent. It intends to walk its way towards a nuclear weapon with the cameras rolling, not hiding in mountains. This way, it thinks it will show that it had a right to weapons and highly enriched uranium in the first place, which was the message of the regime before the JCPOA. The deal only kept Iran from developing weapons or stockpiling enriched uranium for 15 years.

And the clock it ticking.


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