Iran Nuclear Deal's Days May Be Numbered

Iran warns of 'strong response' amid heightened tensions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2020 11:00 AM CST
Iran Nuclear Deal Is Officially in Dispute
In this photo, technicians work at the Arak heavy water reactor's secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, Iran, on Dec. 23, 2019.   (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal could be dead in its tracks with three signatories rejecting Iran's argument that it was able to lift restrictions on enriched uranium production owing to US sanctions. Britain, France, and Germany said Tuesday that they were triggering the "dispute mechanism" within the agreement, which allows for a two-week resolution period, with possible extensions, per the AP. Warning of a "serious and strong response," Iran's foreign ministry said it was willing to work toward preserving the deal, but its days might still be numbered. More:

  • Violations: Iran has been rolling back its commitments since the US withdrew from the agreement and reinstated all sanctions against Iran in 2018. But the US assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani was a tipping point, with Iran afterward saying it would no longer abide by limits set on how many centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium. It did note the "remedial step" could be reversed, per the AP.

  • Possible sanctions: The leaders of Britain, France, and Germany said they were "left with no choice, given Iran's actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments.'' The AP notes the move could bring sanctions. However, the leaders said they were "not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran," as the intention is to preserve the deal, per the BBC.
  • On its last legs?: But BBC correspondent Jonathan Marcus believes the deal, "abandoned or largely abandoned by its two most important signatories," could be dead, since "it is very hard to see Iran accepting a more restrictive agreement that will include constraints on its missile programs and maybe also its regional behavior."
  • A new deal?: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already toying with the idea of a new deal negotiated by President Trump. "President Trump is a great dealmaker, by his own account. Let's work together to replace the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and get the Trump deal instead," he tells the BBC.
  • The blame game: US tensions with Iran continue to climb, with Iran arguing that "US adventurism" was partly to blame for the downing of an Ukraine International Airlines jet, per CNN and CBS News. Iranian protesters seem to reject that argument, however, leaving some wondering if the crisis will prompt a revolutionary moment in Iran.
  • 'Credibility crisis': Meanwhile, Trump is facing a "credibility crisis" over his unfounded claim that Soleimani had planned to blow up four embassies, reports the Washington Post. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he's seen no evidence of such a plot, though he did describe intelligence about Soleimani's plotting as "exquisite." House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has accused the president of "fudging the intelligence."
(More Iran stories.)

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