The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an Obama-era nuclear deal that sought to halt Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions.
Signatories include Iran, the United States, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the EU.
The controversial deal dumped billions of dollars into the Iranian economy, but failed to provide the surveillance required to prevent Iran from continuing its nuclear programs in secret.
In May 2018, President Trump announced the United States withdrawal from the deal. In July 2019, the IAEA confirmed Iran had breached the 3.67% limit outlined in the JCPOA by enriching uranium to 4.5%.
The 3.67% figure represents the enrichment level needed to operate a commercial nuclear power plant. Weapons-grade uranium requires 90%, which is relatively easy to reach once uranium has been enriched to 20%. Iran reached 20% enrichment before the JCPOA was signed.
This week, Iran said it would begin filing 1,044 centrifuges at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant with uranium gas (under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to use only outdated centrifuges located at a facility in Natanz).
“We are aware of their sensitiveness toward the Fordow facility and those centrifuges,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “At the same time, we cannot tolerate unilateral fulfillment of our commitments and no commitment from their side.”
The project will transform the Fordow plant into an active atomic site rather than the research site it was defined as in the JCPOA. Reports suggest Russian nuclear company Rosatom is helping Iran convert the facility, which is located underground roughly 20 miles northeast of Qom.
President Rouhani says he will undo all breaches of the JCPOA if Europe finds a way for Tehran to avoid US sanctions on oil sales, but will otherwise continue moving away from the JCPOA.
“We want to find a way forward through constructive international dialogue,” says UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab. “But Iran needs to stand by the commitments it made and urgently return to full compliance.”
Author’s Note: Is anyone surprised by this?
Iran almost certainly continued its nuclear operations in secret while the JCPOA was in place. Now that the deal has been abandoned by the United States, Iran can conduct its nuclear activities in the open.
The EU believes it faces a tough decision – to reject US sanctions on Iran to ‘save the JCPOA’ or watch Iran pursue nuclear technology. What the EU refuses to believe is that Iran will move forward with its plans for world domination either way.