As Iran announced enrichment of Uranium to 20%, well above the level specified in a previous Nuclear agreement, let us take a look at the possible challenges posed for US President-elect Biden as well as the possible support or a lack of from his Iranian counterpart.
Crux of the Matter
On 2 January 2021, Iran announced its plan to enrich uranium up to 20% “as soon as possible”. The announcement comes amidst the last weeks of US Presidency of Trump before Joe Biden takes over.
The announcement was made on the first death anniversary of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military General, who was killed by US drones on 2nd January 2020.
All Part Of The New Bill
Iran had passed the Bill on Nuclear enrichment in December 2020, aiming for enrichment to “pressure” Europe and the US to provide relief from sanctions. Iran had first informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspectors at the Nuclear plant. The Bill also allows Iran to “expel” those inspectors.
Previous Nuclear Deal
- 20% enrichment of Uranium is 6 times the permissible level under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
- The increased enrichment propels Iran near the level required for creating nuclear weapons.
- Trump had withdrawn the US from the deal in 2018.
- Several sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) and especially Trump under ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran.
The latest development has been cited by the US as Iran’s ploy to “intimidate” the world by its nuclear program. However, experts differ by labelling it as Iran’s way of pressurizing the upcoming US President Biden to restart the 2015 deal.
Possible Talks Between Biden And Rouhani?
- Biden had claimed in his election manifesto to “re-enter” the deal and “extend” it to control “Iran’s other destabilizing activities”.
- Also warned that the US rejoining the nuclear deal would be subject to “strict compliance” from Iran.
- Iran President Hassan Rouhani has claimed to return to compliance with the deal “within an hour” of the US returning to it.
- Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly warned to not “trust” the US. However, he is believed to be supporting the revival privately though.
Read more about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal here: Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal
- The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
- Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
- Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks
- AP News – Iran plans 20% uranium enrichment ‘as soon as possible’
- CNN – Joe Biden: There’s a smarter way to be tough on Iran
- The Guardian – Iran says it would rejoin nuclear deal within an hour of US doing so
- BBC – Iran nuclear deal: Key details
- Arms Control Association – Timeline of Nuclear Diplomacy With Iran
- HowStuffWorks – What’s a uranium centrifuge?