National Security Advisor John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scuppered a 2005 nuclear agreement between Iran and the west, and did the same with President Trump, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said.
“Bolton & Netanyahu killed Paris agreement between E3 & Iran in ’05 by insisting on zero enrichment,” Zarif tweeted on Tuesday. “Result? Iran increased its enrichment 100 fold by 2012.”
Referring to Bolton and Netanyahu as the “B Team,” Zarif then said that “they’ve lured Donald Trump into killing JCPOA w/the same delusion,” referring to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran Nuclear Deal.
Iran stepped up its uranium enrichment on Monday, going beyond the JCPOA-mandated cap of 3.67 percent purification level, in response to the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA last year, and application of biting economic sanctions on Iran. The step-up in enrichment was also carried out as a response to the JCPOA’s European signatories’ failure to live up to their trade obligations with Iran under the deal.
Prior to Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, Netanyahu had pressured his American counterpart to abandon the deal, calling it a “historic mistake” and accusing Tehran of cheating on the deal – with the aid of a theatrical slideshow. In the run-up to the US withdrawal last year, Bolton, a longtime Iran war-hawk, called the deal a scam and promised regime change in the Islamic Republic by the year’s end.
A similar situation played out in 2005. After reaching an agreement with Germany, France and Britain, Iran agreed to suspend all uranium enrichment and to fully cooperate with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Though the US remained absent from negotiations, Washington then lobbied its European allies to demand that Iran have no uranium enrichment facilities on its own soil, under any circumstances.
Hardliners within Iran considered the diktat unacceptable, and newly-elected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad abandoned the deal and resumed enrichment the following year. “We do not humble ourselves in the poisoned atmosphere created by foreign sources,” he said in his inauguration speech in August 2005.
As a result, an IAEA report in 2012 claimed that Iran had produced around 190 kilograms of 20-percent-enriched uranium – enough for a single nuclear warhead if further enriched. “Once you get to 20 percent,” Middle East analyst Paul Heroux told RT, “you’re basically 99 precent of the way” to weapons-grade uranium.
After passing the 3.67 percent enrichment threshold on Monday, a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency threatened to once again up enrichment to 20 percent and to reactivate centrifuges that had lain dormant since the 2015 deal was signed.
With the events of 2005 playing out again, Heroux cautioned that further sanctions and military action are out of the question for the west.
“You can’t eliminate the knowledge Iran has,” he said. “You can’t bomb Iran’s knowledge out of existence. The right way is to go back to the negotiating table with Iran, and we’re probably going to get a worse deal.”