Image Credit: AFP

The regime in Iran has doubled down on its defiance of the international community by amassing more low-enriched uranium than permitted — a stockpile that exceeds the limits set in the 2015 deal with major powers. In doing so, the regime has wilfully ignored a warning by the European co-signatories to stick to the deal despite increased US sanctions.

This is a provocative decision by the regime that is fully aware that by enriching uranium to the low level of 3.6 per cent fissile material, it is the first step in a process that could lead to Iran amassing enough to build a nuclear warhead.

In the lead-up to the 2015 deal, western officials were aware that Iran maintained the ability to enrich uranium — it has but one purpose — and that was a fundamental flaw. And that’s one main reason why the deal had been overridden by the Trump administration. Now, those fears seem to be coming true.

Repercussions for the region

The regime in Tehran has been a duplicitous player, sagely and sincerely agreeing to the concessions and conditions required by the signatories of the deal to end years of economic sanctions over its nuclear ambitions. And at the same as the regime was portraying itself as moderate, it was arming Al Houthi rebels, propping up the regime of Bashar Al Assad in Syria, tilting the balance of civil society in Lebanon, exerting undue influence in Iraq through its militias, and spreading sedition in the Gulf.

Passing the enriched-uranium threshold means that Iran is determined to continue on a dangerous and uncharted course, one that Germany is warning will have repercussions for the region. Those European signatories had worked hard to try and find a way around the new economic sanctions to assist Tehran — but those efforts are now shredded with the revitalised enrichment programme underway.

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As President Donald Trump noted in Washington, Tehran is “playing with fire”. And indeed it is, as its involvement in recent worrying incidents across this region have shown. The fingerprints of the regime’s Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its minions are all over the attacks on tankers in international waters off the UAE coast; so too in drone attacks of civilian airports in Saudi Arabia; and so too in the most recent attacks on tankers in the Arabian Sea.

Iran is close to the point of no return. It has tried the patience of the global community for too long — and now all can see its true colours.