Iran threatened for weeks, and today the threat came true: Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran had committed its first significant breach of its nuclear deal with world powers, breaking a limit on its uranium stockpile.
At issue is a mere few kilograms of uranium out of hundreds Iran is allowed under the deal. Iran has taken only a small step toward a bigger stockpile. Where it goes from here will determine whether that turns into a giant leap out of the deal.
“What they do next will tell us if it’s a breach that portends the demise of the deal, or a determination by the EU in particular that it warrants a snapback of sanctions,” says David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former UN weapons inspector.
Though President Donald Trump ditched the nuclear deal a year ago, Iran and the pact’s other parties for the most part kept observing its terms. But Iran’s leaders have warned that if they could see no economic benefits from the deal—a difficult proposition given the United States’ repeated rounds of crippling sanctions on the country—they had no reason to stay.
The White House issued a statement saying that it had been a mistake to allow Iran to enrich uranium under the deal in the first place. “The United States and its allies will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons,” the statement said. “Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue until its leaders alter their course of action. The regime must end its nuclear ambitions and its malign behavior.”