Iran Nuclear Deal’ Current Affairs - 2019

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Iran tests Medium-Range Missile: US Official

United States military official reported Iran test-launched Shahab-3, a Medium-Range Ballistic Missile inside its borders. Missile was launched from southern coast of Iran and landed east of Tehran. It flew about 1,100 km, however did not pose threat to U.S. or other Western military or shipping bases in region.

Key Highlights

Tensions in Iran & West: The test came amid heightened tensions between Iran and West, mainly over safety of commercial shipping in Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. The missile test also defies demand by US President Donald Trump administration that Iran must curtail its weapon program and rather demonstrates its intent to further push back against U.S. sanctions.

Calculated move by Iran: Despite US’s effort to minimise strategic importance of launch, it appears to be a political statement by Iran, acting both as a carefully calibrated effort at escalation and also as a message to Europe.

UNSC Resolution: Missile launches are not forbidden under 2015 Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). This has been is one of President Donald Trump’s complaints about JCPAO agreement which his administration abandoned in 2018. However a United Nation Security Council (UNSC) resolution, passed just as the nuclear agreement was reached in 2015, says that- Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, this includes launches using such ballistic missile technology.

About Shahab-3

It is a liquid-fueled, medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. It is backbone of Iran’s class of medium-range missiles. It is derived from a North Korean missile called Nodong-A.

Iranian news outlets previously called Shahab-3 as one of country’s Israel-hitting missiles.

Range:  It can fly 1150-2000 kilometers, or even upto 1,242 miles, depending on variant.

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.