President Hassan Rouhani has announced that Iran will withdraw from certain commitments agreed in the 2015 nuclear agreement; this announcement comes a year after the agreement was abandoned by the US, leading to the re-imposition of US sanctions against Iran.
In today’s announcement, Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran will stop exporting its surplus enriched uranium. This decision is contrary to the agreement, under which Iran is required to sell its surplus enriched uranium abroad to ensure that it cannot be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Hassan Rouhani also threatened that Iran will resume its production of higher-enriched uranium (which is currently capped) and begin developing its Arak heavy water reactor in 60 days, if the remaining signatories to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – fail to shield Iran from the impact of US sanctions on its oil and banking sectors.
In response, French Defence Minister Florence Parly has stated that France is still committed to the nuclear deal, but has warned that sanctions could be re-imposed if Iran does not adhere to its existing commitments.
As noted in our previous blog post, France, Germany and Britain have attempted to keep the nuclear deal alive despite the US’s withdrawal. They launched the special purpose vehicle Instex, a payment mechanism which allows European entities to continue engaging in “legitimate trade” with Iran in humanitarian goods such as medicines and food. So far, the system has failed to address sanctions against Iranian oil, Iran’s main source of foreign exchange, and has done little to alleviate the impact of US sanctions.