On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, informed top EU foreign policy official Federica Mogherini that Iran has ceased all its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal on research and development.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) places restriction on Iran’s use of centrifuges, the device that enriches uranium. Under the deal, Iran has been limited to operating 5,060 older-model IR-1 centrifuges, and is prohibited from using more advanced IR-6 centrifuges until 2023. On Wednesday however, President Rouhani announced in a televised speech that as of 6th September, Iran’s next step in its nuclear programme begins, involving the development of IR-6 centrifuges.
In this address, President Rouhani said: “The atomic energy organisation [of Iran] is ordered to immediately start whatever is needed in the field of research and development, and abandon all the commitments that were in place regarding research and development”.
This is the third time that Iran has breached its commitment under JCPOA. In July, Foreign Minister Zarif and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had breached the internationally agreed stockpile limit, below 300kg, of low-enriched uranium, a key tenant of the 2015 nuclear deal. Furthermore, just days later, Iran announced it had enriched uranium to 4.5% purity and had the ability to raise it to 20%, despite the JCPOA limiting Iran’s uranium purity enrichment to 3.6%.
Following Thursday’s announcement, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “Iran’s plan to suspend limits on nuclear research and development is deeply concerning. This third step away from its commitments under the nuclear deal is particularly disappointing at a time when we and our European and international partners are working hard to de-escalate tensions with Iran”.
According to the Times, China is set to invest $280 billion in Iran’s oil, gas, and petrochemicals sector as a new element of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership agreed in 2016.