Uh-oh: Iran cancels all limits on nuclear programme

The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Iran, located between the fishing villages of Halileh and Bandargeh along the Persian Gulf. (Photo: US Naval Institute)

The Islamic Republic of Iran has declared that it will no longer commit to restrictions imposed on its nuclear enrichment programme, in a move that effectively terminates a previous deal inked with world leaders in 2015.

The announcement was made on Sunday (Jan. 5) after a meeting of the Iranian cabinet in the capital city, Tehran.

In a statement, Iran said it would no longer observe limitations on its capacity for nuclear enrichment, the level of enrichment, the stock of enriched material, or research and development.

The latest development comes amid heightened tensions between the US and the Middle East country over the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by an American airstrike in Baghdad on Friday.

According to a report from the BBC, hundreds of thousands turned out in Iran on Sunday “to give Soleimani a hero’s welcome ahead of his funeral on Tuesday.”

Mourners turn out in droves as the body of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani arrived on Sunday (Photo: The Arab Weekly)

Iran, under the 2015 accord brokered by a Barack Obama-led coalition, agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in neutral, international inspectors.

In return, world leaders incrementally lifted several crippling economic sanctions on the nation.

All those gains, however, have been thrown out the window as US President Donald Trump abandoned the accord in 2018, arguing that he wanted to “force Iran to negotiate a new deal”.

US President Donald Trump

The new deal, which never materialised, would have placed indefinite curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme as well as halt further development of long- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Iran vehemently refused Trump’s deal and had since gradually rolled back its commitments under the 2015 agreement.

The latest assessment of Iran’s nuclear programme by the United States, conducted by Congressional Research Service in October 2019, found that Iran “possesses the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons.”

The report noted, however, that Tehran had “not yet mastered all of the necessary technologies for building such weapons.”

“Whether Iran has a viable design for a nuclear weapon is unclear,” the report continued.