CNN | : The latest news comes from Iran, where the regime has just announced it is injecting uranium into centrifuges spinning in a nuclear facility deep inside a mountain in Fordow, raising questions about Iran’s intentions to build a nuclear weapon. Since President Donald Trump announced in May 2018 that the US was withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran has strayed further from the 2015 accord, which was also joined by China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the EU. Under the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran agreed to limiting its uranium enrichment efforts and accepted monitoring from international inspectors in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Iran’s latest provocation is further evidence that Trump’s policy on Iran is turning into a disaster. That may offer some comfort to Trump’s critics, but it should not. Iran’s actions, which put it closer to a nuclear bomb, are extremely troubling because they raise the risks of war in the world’s most unstable region and boost the incentive for further nuclear proliferation among its Sunni Arab rivals.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded the alarm on Thursday, saying, “Iran is positioning itself for a rapid nuclear breakout.” That was a far cry from his swaggering response last year, when he predicted the sanctions in Iran would force Tehran to change its behavior. When asked what the administration would do if Iranians restarted their nuclear program, he replied, “We’re confident that the Iranians will not make that decision.” He was wrong.
Back then, Trump repeatedly blasted the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.” His plan was to reimpose harsh sanctions on Iran to pressure its leaders to reopen negotiations and strike a better deal than the original one spearheaded by Barack Obama’s administration. One of the main flaws of the JCPOA, according to its critics, was that the limitations on uranium-enrichment activities expired between 10 to 15 years, allowing Iran to race for a bomb once those provisions lapsed. If Iran agreed to return to the negotiating table, these sunset provisions in the JCPOA — which limited Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium and its use of advanced centrifuges — might be extended or made permanent.
But Iran, it turns out, did not follow Trump’s script. That’s hardly surprising. Trump’s style of bluster, threats, insults and bluff is one of the reasons why his plan has gone as badly as could be imagined.
Last week, Iran prevented a UN inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency from gaining access to a uranium-enrichment facility before detaining her and seizing her travel documents.
On Thursday, the IAEA held an extraordinary meeting to discuss a series of breaches by Iran. Tehran is reportedly failing to cooperate with nuclear inspectors on a number of issues. Among them, the IAEA found traces of uranium in what Israel called a “secret atomic warehouse” in a site called Turqazabad, which Iran says is a carpet-cleaning facility, according to a report from Reuters.
Just one day before the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the start of uranium enrichment in more than a thousand centrifuges in Fordow, the country’s nuclear chief claimed that dozens more advanced IR6 centrifuges have also started spinning. The technology allows for much faster enrichment on a possible path to a nuclear bomb.
Israel’s former ambassador to the United States also revealed that his country is preparing for the probability of an excruciating war with Iran, which could start at any time. An accidental spark could set off a firestorm, especially if Iran and its proxies are emboldened in Syria following Trump’s relinquishing of the territory it held alongside the Kurds.That’s not how Trump’s plan was supposed to work.
Trump thought Iran would plead for negotiations, but the tables have turned and it is the US President who has repeatedly offered to sit down down with Iran, only to be rebuffed.