Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced that the government is carrying out uranium enrichment at 60 percent purity.
“On Wednesday, we ordered the launch of 60 percent and 12.40 am (Friday) we got the 60 percent product. The product we are taking now is about 9 grams per hour. They are working on the arrangement of the chains, which reduces our production by 60 percent and may reach 5 to 6 grams. But with these two chains, we produce 20 percent at the same time.” (State-run daily Entekhab, April 16, 2021)
In this way the Iranian government has tighten the ring of the siege around its own throat, with the hope that with this venture, which is already failing, it would force the negotiators of the world powers to accept its demands, analysts say.
It seems that Iran’s government has taken this step in order to gain more concessions and has a full hand in the negotiations. The fact is that such an action, first, shows the emptiness of its hands having no cards in the negotiations, and was forced to take such a step.
More clearly said this was the regime’s last chance and solution to make an exit out of this siege, but such a move is not a step forward at all, while moving itself on the verge of a very dangerous precipice.
Fereydoun Majlisi, a retired government diplomat, said: “Iran’s action to increase enrichment to 60 percent is an act of anger and in response to the recent repeated explosions in Natanz. In fact, these actions are an invitation to war, and it is not clear how its fate will end.” (State-run Setareh-e-Sobh, April 14, 2021)
He went on to make his point more clearly: “Going to 60 percent enrichment is explicitly threatening to go to alarming percentages. In fact, by enriching it by more than 25 percent, which is needed for peaceful activities, you are sending a message to the world that you intend to go to alarming percentages. Of course, those who have repeatedly said they agree with the weapon and have spoken of the need to build and maintain it support this move.” (State-run Setareh-e-Sobh, April 14, 2021)
The regime’s move came after the initial speculation that the United States would lift sanctions and its verification by the regime had been dashed, with the United States announcing that it would only lift sanctions that were incompatible with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While it turned out that returning to the 2015 JCPOA was nothing more than an illusion, analysts believe. And the plan that is underway is to finally bring this regime to the brink of accepting missile and regional JCPOAs.
This issue has caused the frustration of the regime, and its supreme leader Ali Khamenei said about it: “[America’s proposal] is often arrogant and humiliating, we are even not able to look at.”
So, until now it is clear that the regime has the lower hand in the negotiations. It has only two ways to get out of this stagnation. One, to accept all the demands of the other party like the JCPOA of its missile arsenal and the JCPOA to stopping its actions in the Middle East, and the second solution is to disobey it and go in the opposite direction, which would have serious consequences like being included under Article 7 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The consequences of such a risk are also very clear. A state-run daily reported: “This move will definitely cause dissatisfaction and protest from the other side, and currents in the United States, Europe and the West Asian region will be activated to defeat the negotiations in order to put pressure on Iran. For example, they may use the trigger mechanism. Even greater destructive actions can be predicted. Maybe after this, acts should not be indirect and should be direct.” (Resalat, April 15, 2021)
With such a situation, talking about power and having the upper hand in the nuclear negotiations is just a joke. It can be said that taking steps to enrich 60 percent “is a threatening move intended to intimidate and gain concessions, and its use is limited to the same meeting and to advancing the negotiations.” (State-run daily Setareh-e-Sobh, April 14, 2021)