Iran has begun work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the U.N. nuclear watchdog announced Wednesday, Jan. 13, and Tehran quickly confirmed. The news implies the last break of the nuclear agreement signed between Iran and six main powers.

Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the nuclear agreement over the past two months, using the argument of the assassination of one of its leading nuclear scientists in November 2020. 

The reality is that the violation of its commitments began well before, in fact it was one of the points that provoked President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement in 2018 and the subsequent sanctions imposed by the United States since then.

Iran’s aim to produce high-grade uranium

“(International Atomic Energy Agency) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi today informed IAEA Member States about recent developments regarding Iran’s plans to conduct R&D activities on uranium metal production as part of its declared aim to design an improved type of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor,” the IAEA announced in a statement.

The signed agreement specifically imposes a 15-year ban on Iran from producing or acquiring uranium metal, on the understanding that it is an extremely sensitive material that can be used in the core of a nuclear bomb.

The confidential report of the IAEA to the member states, obtained by Reuters, states that Iran indicated that it plans to produce metallic uranium from natural uranium, to later produce enriched metallic uranium.

At the same time, at the beginning of the month, it was revealed that Iran had begun to enrich uranium up to 20% in a subway installation, provoking strong tension both with the United States and with the countries of the region that had declared themselves on alert, taking into account that the mentioned percentage exceeds that permitted and is close to that necessary for the production of weapons.

The latest actions carried out by Iran put at risk the already tense relationship with the United States and the countries of the region. In addition to the recent news about Iran’s enriched uranium production, under suspicion that it could be used for the development of nuclear weapons, the statements of leading Iranian officials during the last few days suggest that they will try to assassinate President Trump in revenge for the death of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in 2020.

Iran’s intention to enrich uranium to over 20% began a decade ago and its announcement was on the verge of provoking a war with Israel. The conflict only diminished with the nuclear agreement signed in 2015, through which Iran committed to reducing uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of the economic sanctions against it. 

Iran’s nuclear agreement

During 2020, in spite of the growing tension, especially after the assassination of Soleimani, Iran declared that it would maintain its uranium wealth within the agreed upon limit of 5%. The recent announcement of bringing this enrichment to 20% increases international tensions, knowing that the percentage cited exceeds that permitted and is close to that necessary for the production of weapons.

President Trump has argued since the 2016 campaign that Iran was hiding some of its actions and failing in its international commitments. In fact, it is for this reason that Trump decided to withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear deal. The information that emerged during these days ends up proving President Trump right. 

Iranian threat against President Trump

A series of videos with statements by Ebrahim Raisi, head of Iran’s judiciary, and Gen. Esmail Qaani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, commander of the Quds Force, were published online and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization that tracks Islamic extremism, anti-Semitism, and anti-American sentiment around the world. There you can see the direct threats made against President Trump.

“Americans should expect tough revenge,” Raisi said Jan. 1. “The armed forces of resistance will determine the place and time. The Islamic nation knows when and where this revenge will take place. The enemy must know that his life will be very difficult from now on. The resistance movement will make the life of the enemy very difficult, in revenge for the blood of the martyr Soleimani. One of the aspects of the hard revenge will be to expel the Americans from the region.