In a fresh and deliberate breach of the nuclear deal with the world powers and ahead of the expected inauguration of Joe Biden as U.S. president, Iran is moving advanced centrifuges to an underground site assumed to be built to withstand aerial bombing.
As reported by Reuters, the move was noted in a U.N. atomic watchdog report that states that the action was taken after Iran’s above-ground centrifuge-building facility at Natanz was burned down last summer.
The fire, which set back the production of enriched uranium – material necessary for a nuclear bomb, was labeled an act of sabotage by the Islamic Republic.
According to the nuclear deal, only first-generation machines may be used to enrich uranium, not advanced centrifuges. The latest move is one of the many breaches of the agreement made by Tehran, which entered into the 10-year pact in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
The deal, which was deemed flawed from its inception, was designed to guarantee that if Iran chose to build a nuclear weapon, the break-out time would be one year, instead of the estimated two to three months without the deal.
However, Iran began breaching the agreement from the beginning with no consequences from the signatories of the deal.
For example, according to the deal, Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium was to be limited to 202.8 kg. However, Iran’s stock is currently 2.4 (metric) tonnes.
In 2018, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement made by the Obama/Biden administration and embarked instead on a program of instituting crippling sanctions against Iran.
While campaigning, Biden vowed to reenter the agreement, which was pursued relentlessly by the Obama/Biden administration.
“If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal’s provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” Biden wrote in an article published by CNN in September.
According to a former aide to Biden, reentering the nuclear agreement is “high on his agenda.”
“I believe that in the first months [of Biden’s presidency], we’ll either see him rejoin the deal fully or what I would call ‘JCPOA-minus,’ meaning lifting sanctions in exchange for suspending some of the Iranian nuclear programs [developed] in the past three years,” said Amos Hochstein, who worked at the State Department during the previous administration and oversaw energy sanctions on Iran.
Lifting sanctions against Iran will give the mullahs access to the much-needed cash they need to purchase advanced weapons, which are now legally available to them.
In October, a 13-year UN arms embargo on Iran was lifted as part of the nuclear agreement. This means that Iran – recognized as the largest state sponsor of terrorism – is now allowed to buy weapons from which it was previously restricted, as well as give them to its proxies, including the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Facing the prospect of a Biden presidency that will give up the leverage that the current administration’s heavy sanctions on Iran provide, Trump is planning to enact many more sanctions on Iran between now and January, with the goal of structuring them in a way that the next administration would not be able to lift them.
Iran has already indicated that its conditions for restarting the negotiations would be to lift the sanctions and financially compensate Iran for their losses due to them over the last two years.
Yet, many analysts are wisely calling on Biden to build on Trump’s policies instead of negating them.
“It’s fine if the vice president wants to get back into negotiations with Iran, but he’s been gifted by Donald Trump an unbelievable amount of economic leverage over the Iranian economy. They are in deep, deep trouble, and to simply return to the status quo of the Obama administration, surrender all of that simply to return to a deal that in a space of a very few years is going to run out and allow Iran to surge forward with an industrial-strength nuclear program doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” said former Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security adviser John Hannah, speaking to FOX Business.
Certainly giving Iran – a repressive and terrorist regime – access to billions of dollars in sanctions relief to enact their nefarious agenda would be a travesty for America and the entire world.