Hassan Rouhani has carefully dosed his provocation. Only two rules of the nuclear agreement agreed in 2015, according to the announcement of the Iranian president, would break his country from now on. First, Iran therefore wants to keep more fissile material (capable of sustaining a nuclear fission chain reaction) in stock. The pact stipulated that by the year 2031, at most 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium should be stored in the country.
When the pact came into force in 2016, Iran had to part with about 98 percent of its stock at that time. From the government of the then American president Barak Obama It had been said that Iran could otherwise have processed the material into weapons-grade uranium for eight to ten bombs.
However, due to another clause of the agreement, Iran has only about one in four of its then about 20,000 gas centrifuges in operation.
As long as Iran submits to this restriction, it could not quickly accumulate a larger supply of low-enriched uranium at more than ninety percent, as would be necessary for bombs.
So far, Rouhani did not announced that it will violate the provision of the agreement, which states that the maximum level of enrichment is 3.67 percent.
Even the second rule break, which Rouhani announced, Iran does not make a quick trip to the atomic bomb. In the future, the state wants to produce and store more than 130 tons of water, which is allowed at atomic rate. It is needed for certain reactors, in the operation plutonium falls off – in addition to highly enriched uranium, a second possible path to the atomic bomb.
Because that’s the way it had nuclear deal Iran is required to permanently shut down its only heavy water reactor in Arak. The reactor core was filled with concrete by the Iranians. The construction of a heavy water reactor for plutonium production would be very complicated and would take a long time.
However, Rouhani is threatening to take further steps if Europeans, Russians and Chinese do not find a way by the beginning of July to boost the Iranian oil export, which has almost been brought to a halt by American sanctions. Then Iran could re-run uranium enrichment in secret facilities and rebuild the heavy water reactor in Arak. So Iran could put itself back in the position to shorten its so-called breakout time to a few months – so again a kind of nuclear power on hold.
In 2015, the Iranians had admitted to the five UN-Veto powers and Germany on the mostly time-limited conditions, in return for trade and access to frozen foreign assets.
One year ago, however, the United States withdrew from the agreement. Against the opposition of their European partners, they imposed strict financial sanctions on Iran’s businesses, including secondary sanctions. These cut off some European companies from the US market and from the reserve currency dollar when they do business with Iran.
Prominent European companies are afraid of the threat they face in world trade if they disregard American sanctions. Recently, the Americans announced that they would not extend any exemptions for countries to which they had initially admitted oil imports from Iran. That’s why the nuclear deal is no longer attractive to Iran.