Iran passes uranium enrichment threshold

Iran passed a second threshold that violates the 2015 nuclear deal on Monday.

After surpassing the stipulated by the 2015 allowed stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran also passed the 3,67%ccap on uranium enrichment, the Tehran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed on Monday. Iran is now enriching uranium at 4,5%, far below the 90% required for the development of nuclear arsenal. The International Atomic Energy Agency has yet to verify the violation.

This is the second in a scalable series of calculated and forewarned Iranian violations of the 2015 framework agreement, which come in response to Europe’s failure to honour its part in the agreement. Iran says it will scale back its own commitments in 60-day intervals, with the next violation due on September 5.

France, Germany and Britain expressed concerns over the step taken by Tehran. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “strong concerns” over the risk of weakening the nuclear agreement; on Saturday, Macron also noted that his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, agreed to seek conditions for the resumption of dialogue by July 15.

Following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, European corporates have been pressed to choose between US secondary sanctions and operating in Iran. Tehran is now moving to apply its own pressure on Europe, though most of the measures taken thus far are “reversible,” as noted by foreign minister Javad Zarif on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters in New Jersey on Sunday, Trump warned Tehran to “better be careful” reiterating the warning that “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.” The same warning was echoed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called on Europe to impose punitive sanctions on Tehran.

Washington’s confrontation with Tehran has been rising, as the US blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers and the shooting down a U.S. drone.

During a meeting between the joint Russian-Iranian Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation on June 18 in Esfahan, the two parties expressed their intent to develop economic cooperation despite US sanctions.

Despite US sanctions in 2018, Russia maintained bilateral trade with Iran stood at $1,7bn, while there are projections that the two parties will surpass $2bn over the course of 2019. Russia is focusing on plans to increase agricultural exports, especially grain and meat.

Meanwhile, Gazprom is already offering to help develop gas infrastructure. Russian companies are also engaged in the construction of the Bushehr and Sirik power plants, as well as Russian Railways projects. The two parties are using rubles in bilateral financial transactions, following the Venezuelan precedent. As in the case of Venezuela, there is now speculation that Russian companies could emerge as bulk buyers and distributors of Iranian oil worldwide, particularly in Asian markets.