Iran's nuclear facility near the central city of Arak (File image for illustrative purposes) Image Credit: AP

The European powers have been applying diplomatic pressure on Iran to strop its flagrant violations of its international commitment with regard to its controversial nuclear programme. However, it is apparent Tehran, understandably encouraged by signs from the Biden administration, has found it easy to brush off international pressure.

According to documents compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran had added 17.6 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 20 per cent to its stockpile as of 16 February.

This is the first official confirmation by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog of plans Iran announced in January to enrich to greater purity, which is just a technical step away from nuclear weapons-grade levels and far past the 3.67 per cent purity allowed under the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The deal was signed in 2015 by the United States, Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany, and Iran. In addition to surpassing the purity and stockpiles allowed, Iran has also been spinning advanced centrifuges and producing uranium metal.

On top of that, Iran announced few days ago that it was restricting international inspections it had agreed to under the deal. The UN and the international community described the restrictions as a “dangerous” move.

The UK, France and Germany called on Iran to “stop and reverse all measures that reduce transparency,” saying the latest Iranian move “will significantly constrain the IAEA’s access to sites and to safeguards-relevant information.”

These countries curiously still hope that Iran would somehow abide by its commitment despite all the dangerous steps taken by Tehran. They have probably missed Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s latest declaration, in which he said that his country will not bow to pressure and was willing to enrich uranium up to 60 per cent purity if necessary.

Iran is clearly trying to buy time to fully develop its nuclear capabilities by playing a mouse and cat game with the European powers, who should stand up to Tehran’s endless violations. Iran must be called out for its disregard for basic international commitments it has signed on.

Biden administration is approaching the whole thing in a questionable way. As it seeks to re-engage Iran, Washington has apparently decided to overlook the dangerous steps Iran has been taking since the Trump administration exited the agreement in 2017.

The Iranian behaviour is dangerous to world security and represents the most serious and immediate threat to this region. The US and the European powers must consider the security interests of the region, which is vital to the world’s security, prosperity and economic order.