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Iran’s uranium gambit is a dangerous negotiating tactic
Iran’s uranium gambit is a dangerous negotiating tactic

Iran’s uranium gambit is a dangerous negotiating tactic

Originally published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

On July 6, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was moving ahead with manufacturing “uranium metal enriched to 20 percent U-235 [uranium’s most fissile isotope],” the latest in a series of steps violating Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While Tehran maintains that there is little for the international community to be concerned about—its ambassador to the IAEA pointed to benefits for producing radiopharmaceutical treatments—European and US officials are not convinced. The production of enriched uranium metal, which can be used in the core of nuclear weapons, could have serious nonproliferation implications and adds a complication to already-laborious negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring the JCPOA.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany negotiated the JCPOA in 2015 to address mounting concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. In these negotiations, Tehran agreed to restrict its nuclear activities and allow inspections and monitoring of its facilities in exchange for relief from international sanctions. But it began downgrading its compliance with the deal’s nuclear limits in 2019, citing the US decision, under then president Donald Trump, to pull out of the agreement a year earlier and launch a “maximum pressure” campaign of crushing sanctions that both denied Tehran many of the promised benefits of the 2015 deal and contributed to severe economic hardship.

Read the full article on Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' website.