GP Insights

GP Insights # 180, 11 November 2019

Iran’s Uranium enrichment: A new phase in the Middle East
Sukanya Bali

What happened?
During this week, Iran resumed Uranium gas centrifuge at Fordow plant, undermining the JCPOA Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 2015. This is the fourth move by Iran, after the failure of JCPOA negotiations, following the unilateral US withdrawal.
 
Tehran announced the doubling of advanced centrifuges. Iran began operation of 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges, which enrich Uranium 10-time fasters than IR-1, and in contrast to 2015 accord, has switched Fordow from research plant to an active nuclear site. 
 
What is the background?
On the 40th anniversary of the US embassy hostage crisis, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “Those who see negotiation with the US as a solution to every problem are certainly mistaken.” Tensions have increased between the US and Iran since Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions unilaterally. 

The US “maximum pressure” campaign directly impacted Iran’s slow-growing-economy and reduced its oil sale drastically. During recent months, there has been a steady increase in tensions between the US and Iran in the Gulf. The US also imposed sanctions on Khamenei’s inner circle including Chief of Staff, head of the judiciary, armed forces general staff and his son. 
 
What does it mean?
The latest move by Iran seems to aim at reaching the other JCPOA signatories (UK, China, France, Germany, EU and Russia) to deliver on the deal. 
This nuclear move may increase Iran’s influence in the Middle East, or destabilize the region by starting a nuclear arms race. Countries like Saudi Arabia has shown interest in investing in nuclear technology.

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