Iran Inches Closer to Nuclear Weapon

September 7, 2019 Iran is injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges in a further violation of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, officials said Saturday.

During a live news conference on Saturday, Iran’s Atomic Energy Spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi warned that “Europeans should know that there is not much time left” to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

Kamalvandi made the remarks from a podium with advanced centrifuges standing next to him.

Iranian leaders first threatened to begin enriching uranium at higher levels in May after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, bringing new sanctions against the country.  A spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency announced mid-June plans to enrich uranium up to 20 percent at the end of the month — just short of weapons-grade levels.  The announcement was made just before a scheduled meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, putting more pressure on Europe to come up with new terms for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. — Iran Tensions

Both the United States and Iran continue to insist they do not want war, but since President Trump pulled out of the 2015 Nuclear Deal nearly four months ago, tensions between the two countries leaders has continued to escalate.

The escalation includes several ships mysteriously attacked, drones downed and numerous oil tankers seized in the Strait of Hormuz. On Saturday, Iran state media reported its coast guard seized a boat and arrested 12 Filipino crewmen suspected in a fuel-smuggling ring in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has continued to refuse to engage in fresh talks unless the United States lifts the crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

In response to Iran’s threat in May to break the stockpile limits set by the nuclear deal, the Pentagon deployed 1,000 additional U.S. troops to the Middle East to address the growing threat posed by Iran.

On June 24, President Trump signed an executive order targeting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Foreign Minister with financial sanctions. Trump told reporters at the White House Iran must never have a nuclear weapon.

On July 1, Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif announced the country surpassed the limit on its stockpile of lowenriched uranium of 300 kilograms set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

STRAIT OF HORMUZ — Why it matters

The Strait of Hormuz separates Iran to the north and the Musandam Governorate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and the world’s most strategically important maritime choke point and a main artery for the transport of oil from the Middle East.

Approximately 22.5 million barrels of oil a day passed through the Strait of Hormuz on average since the start of 2018, according to Vortexa, an energy analytics firm. That’s roughly 24% of daily global oil production, and nearly 30% of oil moving over the world’s oceans.



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