Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced on Wednesday that the country would partially stop complying with the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on its nuclear program. The decision comes roughly a year after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would unilaterally stop complying with the deal’s terms, and other negotiators of the deal such as the European Union attempted to continue compliance in an effort to encourage Iran to do the same. Starting Wednesday, Rouhani said, Iran would begin building up its stockpiles of low enriched uranium and heavy water and gave European partners a deadline of 60 days to come up with a way to account for the economic shortfalls Iran has experienced since the U.S. pullout, such as by engaging in oil trade in direct violation of reimposed unilateral U.S. sanctions.
Under the deal, Iran has only been enriching small amounts of uranium and only to a level of 3.67 percent, which is suitable for nuclear power plants but not weapons. However, should Iran’s demands not be met within 60 days, he said the country “will not consider any limit” on enrichment, leaving the door open for an attempt at producing weapons-grade material. Speaking in London with British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States will wait to see if Iran follows through on the threats before deciding how to react. Joining us to discuss is Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan, and publisher of the Informed Comment blog. His latest book is Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires.