Iran has urged the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to avoid publishing details, on Iran’s nuclear program, which may cause confusion.
“It is expected the international atomic energy agency avoid providing unnecessary details and prevent paving the ground for misunderstanding [in the international community]” Iran’s atomic energy department said in the statement.
This development was reported on Iranian state television a day after France, Germany, and the U.K. said that Iran has “no credible civilian use” for its development of uranium metal. Uranium is used in the production of nuclear weapons and fuel.
The Iranians have insisted publicly that they have no intention of producing nuclear weapons. But the statement by Britain, France, and Germany, the E3, dispelled any doubts about Iran’s intended use of uranium.
“The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications,” E3’s joint statement said.
“We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPOA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal,” the joint statement added.
Under the Obama administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015 between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany, the Islamic Republic agreed to a 15-year ban on “producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys.”
President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Last week, the Iranian government announced that it was advancing research on uranium production, saying that its aim was to provide advanced fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.
The Iranians have shown that they are well aware of their breaches of JCPOA. These include: exceeding the stockpile limit on enriched uranium; enriching it beyond the permitted purity level; and using more advanced centrifuges than permitted under the agreement.
Iran recently informed the IAEA of its plans to increase enrichment to 20 percent, just one technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90 percent. Under the JCPOA, Iran is only allowed to enrich uranium to 3.67 percent, the enrichment level used for the production of nuclear fuel.
A decade ago, the Iranians had announced that they were going to enrich uranium to the 20 percent level. This caused Israel to devise plans to bomb Iran’s enrichment facility, as it has frequently stated that it will not allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. Nevertheless, the Obama administration pushed through the JCPOA agreement that saw the U.S. trade palletfuls of cash for Tehran’s assurance that it will only use nuclear power for peaceful uses.
Last month, the Iranian parliament passed a controversial law calling for the expansion of nuclear enrichment and for an end to IAEA inspections. The law also demanded Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization to “operate a facility of metal uranium production” within five months.
The Iranian government is playing hard-ball. It has offered to step back from the breaches of the JCPOA if the incoming Biden administration is willing to enter into negotiations with it. Biden is filling out his State Department appointees with former members of the Obama administration which signals that he intends to reignite the JCPOA.
Wendy Sherman, a former undersecretary in the Obama administration, has been nominated to be the deputy secretary of state. Sherman was the key architect of the Iran nuclear deal. Biden has also tapped Jake Sullivan for national security adviser, William Burns for CIA director, and environmental czar John Kerry as U.S. special presidential envoy for climate. All three were heavily involved in the 2015 nuclear deal.
Biden, himself, has concerns about the Islamic Republic’s long-range precision missile program and the loopholes in the original agreement that Iran has used to its advantage. Nonetheless, many security analysts worry that by filling his administration with architects of the original deal, the U.S. will be less likely to agree that the deal it pushed for has anything that needs to be changed.