Published: Thu, May 09, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Iran tensions rise ahead of anniversary of deal pullout

Iran tensions rise ahead of anniversary of deal pullout

Rouhani did not say how far Iran would be willing to enrich, although the head of its nuclear program again reiterated Iran could reach 20% enrichment within four days.

Russia expects the 2015 Iran nuclear deal's European signatories to fulfil their obligations under the pact, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"On the way here, I heard that Iran intends to continue its nuclear program", Netanyahu said at a Memorial Day event in Jerusalem.

"We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation", the acting Pentagon chief noted, adding "we will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on usa forces or our interests".

The Trump administration has restored USA sanctions and extended them, effectively ordering countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own. It said after 60 days, it would also stop abiding by restrictions on the level to which Iran can enrich uranium and modifications to its Arak heavy water reactor that were created to prevent the production of plutonium. "The ball is now in the court of the deal's remaining signatories to choose between challenging USA unilateral sanctions [and] witnessing additional Iranian violations leading to eventual unraveling of the deal".

US national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a warning over threats by Iranian forces.

And earlier this week, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the USA was deploying an aircraft carrier to the Middle East following a number of "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran.

Hassan Rouhani's address to the nation came on the anniversary of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from the atomic accord.

Iran announced on Wednesday that it was reducing curbs to its nuclear program, just short of violating the terms of the 2015 accord with world powers.

But they have also warned Iran that it must continue to comply with all aspects of the deal, especially the elements relating to nuclear activity.

Under terms of the deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran will give 60 days for signatories to return to negotiating financial and oil deals.

Rouhani said that if the ultimatum is not met, Iran will also end a Chinese-led initiative to redesign its heavy water reactor in Arak. It suggested in its Tuesday edition that Iran may install advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility and begin enrichment at its Fordo facility, activities prohibited under the nuclear deal.

The result of these developments would be a return to the era when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president of Iran - a time when hardliners like Saeed Jalili, Iran's previous top nuclear negotiator, were leading the global nuclear talks.

This, according to the sources, may take the form of Iranian attacks on U.S targets in the region, as well as Iranian-backed operations against the Israeli Air Force (IAF) if it attacks Iranian targets in Syria.

The other countries that signed the deal are Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Iran's move will erode the bargaining power of Germany, France and the United Kingdom vis-a-vis the USA, and may lead to the U.S. and the European Union joining forces in resuming sanctions. For ever percentage point that figure is allowed to creep up, Iran gets exponentially closer to the capacity to produce weapons grade uranium.

However, their efforts have largely failed, with all major European companies abandoning plans to do business with Iran for fear of USA punishment.

President Donald Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran after announcing the USA withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, on May 8, 2018.

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