P5+1 Current Affairs - 2019

Category Wise PDF Compilations available at This Link

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.

Iran announces Partial Withdrawal from JCPOA

Iran announced it will pull out of some commitments under 2015 international nuclear agreement signed with world powers, called Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

About Iran’s Partial Withdrawal

In a move of partial withdrawal from JCPOA Iran will pull out of some commitments such as:

  • It will stop suppressing its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water, as these are needed by certain types of reactor for nuclear fission to take place.
  • Reason: As per Iran, such action is required as European Union (EU) and other countries did not have power to resist US pressure. Also, such measures are necessary to secure Iran’s rights and bring back balance after United States exited from agreement in 2018.
  • Iran’s Supreme National Security Council gave 60 days to remaining countries of deal, to implement their commitments, mainly in fields of banking and oil. It referred to commitments made by Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, to lift sanctions on Iran in return if it curbs its nuclear activities.
  • The decision comes after US dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group to Middle East.
  • As per Iran this path is not that of war, but is of diplomacy with a new language and a new logic.

Recent Developments

  • China resolutely opposes unilateral US sanctions against Iran and called on all parties to uphold Iranian nuclear pact.
  • Russia has also denounced US pressure and stands by Iran nuclear deal.
  • Britain in contradiction has not welcomed Iran’s decision, as it could lead to new Western sanctions.

US Stand on Issue

  • In May 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that US will unilaterally pull out of from JCPOA, re-imposing US sanctions on Iran. His administration found the deal to be “defective to the core”.
  • US also announced to cancel waivers to countries (including India) who continue to purchase oil from Iran.

Reasons given for Withdrawal:

  • JCPOA does not have binding restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and it does nothing to prevent Iran from sponsoring terrorism in its region.
  • Most restrictions have a sunset-clause, which means that over the years JCPOA’s provisions will become less strict and this will enable Iran to move towards nuclear-weapon capability.

About JCPOA

  • It is an international nuclear agreement signed in 2015, between Iran and the P5+1. The P5+1 includes five permanent UNSC’s members (P5): China, Russia, France, United Kingdom (UK), and United States; and (+1) Germany.
  • Under it, Iran agreed to make certain changes to its nuclear programme which included stopping export of enriched uranium stock, in return for United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and the US revoking their sanctions against it.
  • These Nuclear related sanctions on Iran were lifted by US from 1 January 2016.