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Ayatollah Khamenei announces that he has ordered Iran’s atomic energy agency to prepare for the rapid enrichment of uranium to bomb levels, given President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. All the signatories to the deal as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency assert that Iran was scrupulous in meeting its commitments under the deal. Yet the President withdrew on the grounds that its was the “worst deal ever.” The deal was negotiated by Barack Obama; did not require Iran to allow inspections on its military bases; did not apply to its missile development programs; and was silent on Iran’s aggressive foreign policy — all issues that have troubled the U.S. president (along with his close ally, Bibi Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister.)

By withdrawing from the deal, the President has managed to accomplish the following:

*Uniting Iranian hardliners and moderates in hostility to the U.S. and in support of Iran’s nuclear program
*Driving up oil prices in response to fears over new U.S. sanctions on Iranian exports
*Infuriating U.S. allies by threatening secondary sanctions on firms registered in their countries which do business in Iran
*Emboldening China to continue to export to Iran after a warm reception for Iran’s president in a recent visit to Beijing
*Doing nothing towards constraining Iran’s regional ambitions or missile development programs.
--Marvin Zonis

Khamenei Turns Up Pressure on Iran Nuclear Deal

By Najmeh Bozogmehr and Michael Peel

*Officials told to speed up preparations for advanced nuclear enrichment

*Ali Khamenei: 'the Iranian nation and its government will not tolerate to be both subject to sanctions and have its nuclear programme restricted and imprisoned'

Iran’s supreme leader ordered officials to speed up preparations to deploy machines for advanced nuclear enrichment, putting renewed pressure on European states seeking to keep the Islamic Republic in the nuclear accord in the face of renewed US sanctions.

“The Atomic Energy Organisation is obliged to quickly make preparations to reach to 190,000 SWU within the nuclear agreement,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech on Monday. “The Iranian nation and its government will not tolerate to be both subject to sanctions and have its nuclear programme restricted and imprisoned.”

SWUs — or separative work units — are a measure of uranium enrichment capacity. Under the 2015 nuclear accord, Tehran will be permitted to increase its enrichment efficiency by the end of the next decade just before the deal is set to expire. But speeding up preparations now could allow Iran to ramp up production more quickly after that date.

Mr Khamenei did not give a timeline for the rise to 190,000 SWUs, which is way beyond the limits imposed on Iran under the nuclear deal. He did however say that Iran would continue to comply with the accord, suggesting he may have been talking about an ambition after the restrictions are eased. Mr Khamenei has since at least 2014 quoted 190,000 SWUs as the target to execute its plan for a national network of atomic power stations. Under an October 2015 law to implement the nuclear deal, Iran reserved the right to rapidly expand its uranium enrichment capacity to 190,000 SWUs within two years if sanctions were restored.

Iran was thought to have a capacity of about 42,000 SWUs per year at the time of the nuclear agreement, according to the Washington Institute For Near East Policy think-tank. Simon Henderson, a fellow at the institute, said: “Khamenei is being ambiguous, worryingly so. He is playing with us.”

Last month, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the accord between Tehran and six major powers on the grounds that Tehran violated the spirit of the deal with its aggressive regional meddling and alleged deceit over previous nuclear activities.

Iran, which has complied with the accord and kept its nuclear programme shut down in return for the lifting of many sanctions, hopes to stay in the accord along with other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

However, concern is growing in Tehran that European countries will not be able to deter the US from re-imposing sanctions on European companies, which would deal a big blow to Iran’s oil exports. Iran needs European support to continue shipping and insuring its crude exports and transferring petrodollars.

Mr Khamenei also rejected making concessions on the country’s ballistic missile programme. He reminded Iranians that many cities were hit by Iraqi missiles during a deadly war in the 1980s, when no country would sell missiles to Iran to defend itself.

“[We] have managed to become the region’s top power in missile [production],” he said. “The enemy knows that if it hits [Iran] with one missile, it would be hit back by 10 missiles. Missiles bring us security and might.”

On Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, renewed his criticism of the 2015 Iran deal and the country’s broader activities in the Middle East during a visit in Berlin. Speaking at a press conference with Angela Merkel, German chancellor, the Israeli leader described the accord as a “very bad deal”, adding: “It does not address the issue of Iranian ballistic missiles and it does not address the issue of Iranian aggression.”

Mr Netanyahu pointed in particular to Iranian military activities in Syria, saying Tehran now stood at “the back door of Israel with the explicit goal of attacking us”.

His criticism of the Iran deal did not sway the chancellor, however, who insisted that Berlin and its European partners would continue to stand by the agreement.

Germany shared Israel’s concerns regarding Iranian activities in the region and the country’s ballistic missile programme, she added, but it wanted to make progress on these issues by way of “tough negotiations” with Tehran. “We are united when it comes to the goal that Iran should never obtain nuclear weapons,” Ms Merkel said. “The question where there is disagreement [with Israel] is: how do you best achieve this?”

Posted on June 4, 2018 at

https://giftarticle.ft.com/giftarticle/actions/redeem/e7f119c2-7123-4c05-b953-52452f7f670b

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  • Marvin, very pleased to see your wise comments on Iran and the Iran deal which looks in danger from the mercurial Donald Trump. Hope your comments will have the impact they
    should on the US and others, we live in hope Steve

    by Steve Timewell at 06/06/2018 08:44