London, 05 June - Iran is continuing to violate the 2015 nuclear accord by increasing its contested nuclear work, but Republicans in Congress are preparing to impose biting sanctions that the Donald Trump administration has so far neglected to impose, according to officials familiar with the effort.
Iran has already breached provisions of the nuclear accord about the installation of advanced centrifuges – used to speedily enrich uranium to make nuclear bombs – but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) now reports that Iran has begun restarting bomb-making portions of its nuclear program.
This is the fulfilment of a threat made by Iran if Europe would not help Iran evade US economic sanctions, which came into place after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018. This amount to nuclear blackmail on the part of Iran, so Republicans see this as an opportunity to convince the Trump administration to end sanctions waivers that allow Iran to legally continue secretive nuclear work at a range of sites. (Unfortunately, the State Department have argued against revocation.) Essentially, this means that the US has not fully left the nuclear deal.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is a vocal critic of the decision to continue granting Iran nuclear waivers, said that the IAEA's recent findings warrant more sanctions.
He said: "Today's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms what I have long said: Iran is cheating on the catastrophic Obama Iran nuclear deal. In addition to secretly storing blueprints for nuclear weapons and refusing to turn over materials related to their nuclear weapons program, now they have pushed the envelope so far on centrifuges that the cheating can no longer be denied."
He continued: "The nuclear deal was designed to allow cheating, with the expectation that the Ayatollahs would blackmail the parties into ignoring their behaviour. I have long said the nuclear deal should be ripped to shreds, and I applaud President Trump for all of the steps his administration has taken to that end. Now it is time to take the next step and invoke the multilateral snapback in United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, which the Obama administration rushed to pass in order to lock in the nuclear deal before Congress had a chance to weigh in."
One senior congressional official explained that this is a loophole that allows Iran to work on advanced centrifuges until they are ready to back out of the nuclear deal.
Michael Doran, a former deputy assistant secretary of defence and a former senior director of the White House National Security Council, explained that the debate is reaching a tipping point.
He said: "Although President Trump renounced the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, a year later the United States is still respecting provisions of the deal by issuing waivers that permit what is euphemistically referred to as Iran's ‘civil nuclear program. Some inside and the administration—and Senator Cruz outside it—are asking whether it makes sense for the United States to support the maintenance of facilities such as, for example, the Fordow enrichment plant."
It is time for Trump to put the final nail in the coffin of the Iran deal and listen to Senator Cruz.