This is a new snag in the July 2015 Treaty (JCPoA) putting international control over the Iranian nuclear program. As announced, the Iranian authorities have further reduced their nuclear commitments by announcing the resumption of enrichment in the underground Fordo plant some 180 kilometers south of Tehran, which they had frozen under the Vienna Agreement.
This measure corresponds to the fourth phase of the plan to reduce Iran's commitments in response to the unilateral denunciation of the Vienna Agreement by Washington. Since May, Tehran has started producing enriched uranium at 4.5%, a rate higher than the 3.67% ceiling provided by the agreement but far from 90%, the rate needed for military use. Iran now accumulates 5 kilograms of enriched uranium per day, freeing the limit of 300 kilos maximum of stock imposed by the JCPoA.
"Maximum pressure" strategy
President Hassan Rohani's announcement came a day after Tehran expired so that the other parties – still signatories to the treaty – would help it bypass the consequences of the withdrawal of the United States in May 2018. pact signed between the 5 + 1 (the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) and Iran. A year later, in May 2019, the Trump administration, decided to apply a strategy of "maximum pressure", further tightened its unilateral sanctions with the removal of the exemptions still enjoyed by the eight main customers of Iranian crude including China, India and Japan.
This strategy of repeated snags to the treaty aims to isolate the Americans while avoiding the irreparable. Hassan Rohani said that Fordo's centrifuges would be kept under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), like the rest of Iran's nuclear activities, subject to the strictest inspection regime ever. put in place by this UN body. He also recalled that the measures taken by the Islamic Republic were "Reversible" and that Tehran was ready to return to the full implementation of its commitments as soon as the other parties to the Vienna Agreement respect theirs. It does not close the door to a resumption of negotiations as the new decision may raise tension in the region.