2015 Nuclear Deal Current Affairs - 2020

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IAEA confirms Iran breached enriched Uranium Stockpile limit

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ atomic watchdog has confirmed that Iran has exceeded limit on amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile set out in 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

This marks the 1st major departure by Iran from unraveling agreement a year after U.S. unilaterally withdrew from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) accord.

Key Highlights

The initial announcement about Iran had broken limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 2015 nuclear deal were made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Limit Breached: Later IAEA inspectors verified and confirmed that the country has exceeded 300-kilogramme limit on its enriched uranium reserves.

Threat: Iran has threatened that country is planning to increase its enrichment of uranium closer to weapons-grade levels by July 7 and to suspend its other commitments under JCPOA deal in 10 days unless European powers took steps to implement their new mechanism called INSTEX for facilitating trade.

Iran also announced that it is planning to suspend other commitments also.

What is INSTEX?

INSTEX stands for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.

It is a special-purpose vehicle established in January 2019 by E3 i.e. France, Germany and United Kingdom to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran amid US unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA.

This new trading system is designed to circumvent sanctions on Iran. As of May 2019 use of SPV is limited to humanitarian purposes such as purchase of otherwise embargoed foods or medicines.

Issue: On 28 June 2019, EU stated that INSTEX has been made operational and that 1st transactions are being processed, but according to Iran, it did not meet countries needs.

About Iran Nuclear Deal

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal was an agreement on Iranian nuclear program reached.

Participants: It was signed between Iran, P5+1 (refers to UN Security Council’s 5 permanent members (P5); namely France, United Kingdom, China, Russia, and US; plus Germany.), and European Union in Vienna on July 14, 2015.

Under the 2015 Nuclear Deal, Iran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in IAEA inspectors in return for lifting of sanctions.

Limit: As per the deal Iran can stockpile no more than 300kg of low-enriched uranium. Iran is permitted to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3.67% concentration of U-235, and can fuel a power plant only until 2031.

Uses: Enriched uranium used for peaceful purposes, including medical research and producing electricity but, if it is highly purified it can also be used to make a nuclear bomb.

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Iran to continue enriching Uranium despite US move

Iran announced it will continue with its low-level uranium enrichment in line with its nuclear deal with world powers. This move comes when on 3 May 2019, US forced Iran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and halt expanding its only nuclear power plant, thus intensifying campaign aimed at stopping Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and curbing its regional power.

Move taken by US against Iran

  • US efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began in 2018 when US President Trump unilaterally withdrew from nuclear deal which US and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.
  • US also scrapped its sanctions waiver under 2015 nuclear deal which until now allowed Iran to ship low enriched uranium produced at its Natanz facility, to Russia before it hit 300 kg limit and can even evade 300 kg limit on amount of low-enriched uranium it can store.
  • In recent move US announced discontinuing waivers and sanctions for countries (even India) buying oil from Iranian oil. It is an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
  • It also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist Organization.

Arguments by Iran

  • As per (nuclear accord) Iran can produce heavy water (which is employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads), as this does not violate agreement so Iran will carry on with enrichment activity.
  • Its low-enriched uranium production helps Iran produce electricity.
  • Iran called for talks with its other partners in nuclear deal and UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to approve that Iran can enrich fuel to 20 percent and higher.
  • It is trying to counter US sanctions by continuing to export its oil at the same time boosting its non-oil exports.
  • In a move to increase its hard currency income and cut down currency expenditures, Iran will increase production and raise non-oil exports.

IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency

  • It was established in 1957as an autonomous organization with headquarters Vienna. It’s objective is to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy, and prevent its use for any military purpose, including production of nuclear weapons.
  • Although it is independent of UN but it reports to both United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and to UN Security Council (UNSC).
  • It won Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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