Iran Violated the Nuclear Deal in Several Ways, Some of Which Are Irreversible

Nov. 15 2019

On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published its most recent report on the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, which lists numerous breaches. The report follows on Tehran’s recent announcement that it has begun enriching uranium up to 5 percent, ignoring the 3.67-percent cap to which it committed itself in 2015. Moreover, the IAEA confirmed Israel’s finding that Iran is storing uranium at a previously undisclosed site. David Albright and Andrea Stricker summarize and analyze these findings and others:

Iran . . . started uranium enrichment at the Fordow fuel-enrichment plant; increased its quantity of low-enriched uranium above the 300kg cap, ramping up monthly production significantly; [and] increased the number and type of centrifuges enriching uranium above the limit of 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges. The total . . . uranium enrichment has increased [to] 36 percent above the enrichment capacity allowed. . . . Iran [also] installed and operated several new, advanced centrifuge types at the [Fordow reactor] not listed as permitted for installation in the nuclear deal.

The breakout time, or the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough [highly enriched] uranium for a nuclear weapon, has shifted downward, . . . from about eight-to-twelve months to six-to-ten months. The breakout time will decrease further as Iran increases its stock of enriched uranium and installs more centrifuges.

Iran is [therefore] increasing its enrichment capacity and its experience in operating advanced centrifuges. While the former is reversible, the latter is not. This knowledge and experience cannot be lost.

Albright and Stricker also note several points the IAEA report overlooks:

The report does not discuss Iran’s denial of access to an inspector at its Natanz [nuclear facility, and] is completely silent on the issue of the IAEA’s investigation of the nuclear archive [discovered last year by the Mossad], and whether this matter could rise to the level of a violation of the nuclear deal itself, under which Iran committed “under no circumstances ever [to] seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons.” The existence of the archive may also violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Iran’s safeguards agreements.

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More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Mossad

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship