According to the latest United Nations safeguards report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is potentially in violation of a key portion of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The report, made public Friday, indicates that the Islamic nation is currently in compliance with most of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but is pushing boundaries when it comes to the operation of uranium enrichment machinery.
“The report discusses one potential violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in footnote 27, which states, ‘up to 33 IR-6 centrifuges have been installed, of which up to 10 have been tested,” David Albright and Andrea Stricker wrote Friday in an analysis of the report for the Institute for Science and International Security.
Founded by Albright, the Institute is a non-governmental organization that has long worked alongside the IAEA to conduct international nuclear safety analyses for the general public.
“This number of deployed centrifuges is far in excess of what is a reasonable interpretation of the deployment rate implied in Iran’s long-term enrichment plan,” the two add.
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A physicist and former member of the IAEA Action Team, Albright says that, though vague in its wording, the initial nuclear deal would have allowed for Iran to operate a maximum of 30 such centrifuges.
Iran would also not have been permitted to install and operate that maximum number for at least eight more years.
“The IAEA appears unable to state that Iran remains within a reasonable interpretation of the limits of this provision, since it is above even the limit of 30 IR-6 centrifuges that it may operate starting in year 8 or 8.5,” Albright and Stricker write.
The pair does, however, indicate that this most recent safeguards report finds Iran in compliance with current regulations on the amount of uranium and heavy water stockpiles it may possess.
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The news comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States in recent weeks.
Tensions began to escalate last spring when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear deal, referring to it as “unacceptable” and reintroducing various sanctions on the nation that had been relaxed under the previous administration.
As economic pressures rise, however, Iran’s leaders have promised repercussions in the way of blatant violations of the nuclear deal should their demands for a new deal not be met by the United States and European allies in the coming months.
Hostile and violent activity from the nation’s proxies in the region also increased in light of these tensions, prompting the president to dispatch an influx of 1,500 troops to the Middle East.
News of possible violations from the latest safeguards report has also prompted several American political leaders to respond.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a frequent critic of the Iran nuclear deal, issued a statement on the subject Friday.
In his statement, Cruz called on the United States “to invoke the multilateral snapback in United Nations Security Council resolution 2231” — a provision that would reintroduce all of the international sanctions Iran was subject to prior to the deal.
“Today’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms what I have long said: Iran is cheating on the catastrophic Obama Iran nuclear deal,” Cruz wrote.
“In addition to secretly storing blueprints for nuclear weapons and refusing to turn over materials related to their nuclear weapons program, now they have pushed the envelope so far on centrifuges that the cheating can no longer be denied.”
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