Iran Enriching Nuke Material, Captures Tanker, Threatening Trump, Is War Imminent?
Over the weekend, Iran seized another tanker, then announced to the world that they were going to start refining their nuclear material to 20%. As tensions have been raised, with the prospect of Biden coming in and bringing the US back into the Iran nuclear agreement, they have at this point made it all but impossible, thus crossing a red line for the Trump administration and with our ally in the Middle East, Israel.
Also Monday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a South Korean-flagged ship carrying thousands of tons of ethanol in the Persian Gulf, according to the state-linked news agencies IRIB and FARS News.
Raising enrichment puts Iran a technical step away from enriching at 90 percent, the level needed to produce a nuclear warhead. Before the announcement, Iran was enriching uranium at around 4.5 percent, in violation of the nuclear pact but at a significantly lower level.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been simmering in President Donald Trump’s administration’s last days. Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, setting off a series of escalating incidents that culminated in killing a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2020. Thousands of people took to the streets in Iraq to protest his death Sunday.
Iranian officials said the uranium is being enriched at the Fordo nuclear facility, which is hidden deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom. Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Tehran is allowed to enrich uranium at only around 3.5 percent, and no enrichment is allowed at the Fordo plant.
Even Ali Akbar Salehi, the U.S.-educated head of the civilian Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, offered a military analogy to describe his agency’s readiness to take the next step.
“We are like soldiers and our fingers are on the triggers,” Salehi told Iranian state television. “The commander should command and we shoot. We are ready for this and will produce (20% enriched uranium) as soon as possible.”
The decision comes after parliament passed a bill, later approved by a constitutional watchdog, aimed at hiking enrichment to pressure Europe into providing sanctions relief. It also serves as pressure ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he’s willing to reenter the nuclear deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged Iran had informed its inspectors of the decision after news leaked overnight.
“Iran has informed the agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium … up to 20 percent at the Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA said in a statement.
The IAEA added Iran did not say when it planned to boost enrichment, though the agency “has inspectors present in Iran on a 24/7 basis and they have regular access to Fordo.”
Iran did not stop here, upon hearing that the USS Nimitz Group has turned around and is heading back to the area siezed a ship, thus escalating tensions even more.
- Iran seized a South Korean tanker and arrested its crew in the Persian Gulf on Monday as the US military reversed itself and ordered the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, to remain in the region.
- The reversal of the Nimitz’s orders over the past five days alarmed several NATO officials who have repeatedly expressed concerns about what they see as erratic US national security moves post-election.
- “I suspect they will say there was new information or a new threat and that the Nimitz was needed to stay in the area but there will be widespread suspicions that Trump overruled the redeployment for his own political or emotional concerns,” a NATO official told Insider.
Iran seized a South Korean tanker and arrested its crew in the Persian Gulf on Monday as the US military continued an on-again, off-again military build-up around its border. The maneuvers came days after the first anniversary of the US assassination of a top Iranian general.
The seizure – which Iran described as related to environmental pollution in a statement reported by the Associated Press – came just one day after the Pentagon abruptly reversed a decision to move the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, out of the region just three days prior.
Iran seems to think it can pull the tail of the tiger as Trump is winding down his administration; what they are not counting on is this tiger has claws; they may want to be careful, or these claws will come out.
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