When President Donald Trump decided to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran, it seemed, for a moment, that there is a chance for the agreement to be saved by the European countries. It was originally reported that Iran will not amp its enriched uranium production and still allow international inspectors to monitor their activities. The other side would need to offer economic aid to the Middle East country, but things might not pan out as it was planned.
A few days ago, on Sunday, a message from Iran high official was sent saying that Europe needs to stand up to Trump and help his country economically. Not long after that, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, said that European countries are not doing enough for them and that Tehran might leave the agreement. “The Europeans expect the Iranian nation to tolerate and grapple with the sanctions, to give up their nuclear activities, which is an absolute requirement for the future of the country, and also to continue with the restrictions that have been imposed on them. I would tell these governments that this bad dream will not come true.”
Bad news for the deal came on Tuesday when Iran officials said that they are working on expanding Natanz nuclear site and adding new centrifuges. Natanz is the biggest nuclear facility, and it was built in 2007 with the capability of creating low-enriched uranium that is used for nuclear reactors and in medicine. At this location, it is also possible to create a nuclear weapon grade enriched uranium that needs to be at about 90 percent or even higher.
At the moment Tehran wants to stay in the agreement but not without help from Europe. They will continue to enrich uranium but at levels that will not break the deal while the news about expanding Natanz center is a clear indication that they have an alternative and the means to create nuclear weapons if they don’t get what has been promised to them.
According to Ali Vaez, the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group leader, this is not the deal breaker but simple warning what could happen if the terms are not met. This way they are showing the ability to quickly restart the nuclear program if the agreement goes south.
When both sides signed the document, it allowed Iran to trade on the global market, but with Trump pulling out the US and imposing sanctions, it will be hard for Iran to continue its trade operations on the same level. It is clear that America is the main player when it comes to trade and Europe will not be able to compensate for their absence.
Some of the giants already decided to leave Iran, including PSA Group (Peugeot and Citroen) and General Electric. For example, PSA Group managed to produce a total of 440,000 cars in Iran for 2017. Because of this they will try and get a sanction waiver from America.