For Immediate Release: November 5, 2019
Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext 107
(Washington, DC)—Today, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that the government would begin injecting uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into the centrifuge arrays at its underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility. This action, which serves no legitimate civilian purpose and is the fourth and latest breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a step in the wrong direction.
Iran’s leaders may be trying to leverage greater European action for the sanctions relief it was promised through the JCPOA, but this latest breach of the JCPOA limits is a serious mistake and that will further complicate tensions over Iran’s nuclear activities.
We strongly urge Iran to refrain from accumulating low-enriched uranium from the centrifuges at Fordow. If Iran starts accumulating LEU from the process, it will increase proliferation risk over time. However, because the site is under IAEA surveillance, we will know quickly if Tehran takes any steps toward the production of bomb-grade material.
These developments have, of course, been triggered by President Donald Trump's decision last year to withdraw from the JCPOA and to reimpose sanctions against Iran, which is a clear violation of the commitments made by the United States in 2015. Trump’s Iran policy is by all measures failing. The United States' relationship with Iran far less stable and the security situation in the region is far more dangerous than it was at the end of 2016.
Both sides - Iran and the United States - should return to full compliance with the JCPOA or the crisis will worsen significantly in 2020. The best off-ramp for both sides is the plan floated by French President Emmanuel Macron for U.S. sanctions waivers to allow substantial purchases of Iranian oil in exchange by Europe in exchange for Iran returning to full compliance with the JCPOA, to be followed by the initiation of direct talks on issues of mutual concern.