President Trump has warned about Iran’s determination to pursue nuclear capacity, and it appears he was right on the mark. According to the Iranian state-run IRNA news agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, announced that Iran has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity, saying, “We will soon be crossing the 300-kg limit in several weeks.”
Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told CNBC, “We are woefully underappreciating the seriousness of this crisis.” Richard Nephew, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, said, “The comparison here is they were already going 55 miles per hour and heading towards a busted bridge. And so what the AEOI is saying is that they threw a brick on the accelerator. They would have eventually breached the threshold. What they’re saying today is they are deliberately and intentionally trying to breach the threshold faster.”
IFP News reported, “Iran made a nuclear announcement recently in reaction to the United States withdrawal from the nuclear deal on 8 May, 2018. The statement of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran said that the country would reduce nuclear commitments under the framework of 2015 nuclear deal, by evading 300-kg limit on the amount of low-enriched uranium, and also 130-tonne limit for storage of heavy water produced at its Arak facility.”
Kamalvandi added, “Iran can resume 20 percent enrichment within four days. Whether to conduct the 20-percent enrichment in Natanz or in Fordow is a question that needs to be considered by the Committee to Monitor and Supervise Implementation of the JCPOA at the Iranian Supreme National Security Council.”
CNBC noted, “Though uranium must be enriched to 90% to make weapons, much of the work to reach that tipping point has already been done once uranium is enriched within a range of 3% to 4%.”
The Daily Mail reports that Kamalvandi said Iran enriched its uranium because the Trump administration had eliminated waivers allowing Iran to trade enriched uranium to Russia in return for unprocessed yellowcake uranium, and also derailed Iran selling heavy water to Oman. As the Daily Mail notes, “Heavy water helps cool reactors producing plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons.
At the rate that Iran is enriching its uranium, the country will soon violate the stockpile limitations set by the Iran nuclear deal, which Europe still clings to but President Trump exited.
With tensions simmering between Iran and the U.S., British Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt indicated that if a conflict breaks out, the U.K. will stand with the U.S. She noted that the U.K. was “already deployed in the region, “ adding, “This is a region where we have a huge stake and a huge amount invested and we are working with our allies and partners to firstly try to de-escalate things in the region but also to truly understand the facts behind recent events.” Mordaunt also said, “The United Kingdom shares the United States’, European and Gulf partners’ concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities. We continue to work closely with our allies and partners to mitigate the threats to regional security.”