Iran has been considering its response options after Donald Trump’s May 8th announcement of the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal (officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)). The reintroduction of the sanctions grows nearer, on top of new economic bans such as forcing companies to “wind down” their businesses in Iran within 90 or 180 days. The Persian country vowed, in the face of its First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri that the US sanctions would meet with forceful and strong resistance. On July 10th, Jahangiri said “Given the enemy’s economic war, we will face new and difficult conditions and must stand against this war with full power.” The first of the sanctions will be imposed in August, while the ones targeting oil exports will come into effect in November.
Jahangiri said that after US withdrew from the nuclear agreement, the remaining signatories vowed to be committed to their obligations, however they must make practical measures to that end. Iran has placed the condition that the US sanctions incoming do not affect Iran’s dividends thanks to European efforts.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on July 6th, as quoted by PressTV, that the remaining signatories have the political will to stand up to the US. However, if the European sides to the deal fail to fulfill their obligations, Iran would take its own measures in dealing with the US withdrawal.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on July 9th that three major European signatories to the deal have agreed to establish trade ties with Iran independent of the US dollar. This decision of France, Germany and the UK will mostly concern small and medium enterprises, however the other parties have agreed to work out measures to counteract the US sanctions.
Iran’s currency has plummeted almost 50% against the US dollar, which prompted a short strike by traders in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. There have also been reports of brief scuffles and small-scale protests, however there have been no mass demonstrations, as reported by Gulf News. The US has also rejected any requests from EU countries for exemption of EU business from the Iran sanctions.
Al Jazeera reports that Iran’s president visited Switzerland and Austria in early July 2018 in hopes to secure trade deals. There will allegedly also be discussions with Russia about investments in the Iranian oil industry. Envoys were also sent to India and Pakistan to reaffirm cooperation. It is also a big hope for Iran that China will still remain one of its biggest oil buyers despite the American threats.
UAWire reported, on July 10th, that Iran has requested to withdraw 300 million euros from its accounts in German Banks. The information initially appeared in the German newspaper Bild, however it was confirmed by the German Government. According to the newspaper, the Iranian authorities argue that the withdrawal of such a large amount of money is needed. It will be given to Iranian citizens who, because of American sanctions, can no longer use credit cards during foreign trips. US and Israeli intelligence have expressed worries that the money could be used to fund the Iranian military, the Bild also adds.
On July 16th, Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Economic Commission was quoted by Iran Front Page News that crypto-currency may be used to avoid US sanctions and be used to get rid of the dollar’s hegemony. According to his words the Iranian Parliament will soon discuss the issue. He also added that one of the top priorities of the Parliament is to explore and discuss the issue of money treaties as a mechanism to avoid the sanctions. This would not be uncommon since many countries such as Russia, China and Brazil have turned to money treaties to facilitate trade transactions.
On July 17th, Reuters reported that Iran has filed a lawsuit to the International Court of Justice against the US. Alleging that Washington’s decision to impose sanctions after withdrawing from the nuclear deal violates a 1955 treaty between the two countries. Reuters further reports that a State Department official department has said that the application is without merit and the US would fight it in court.
As of July 18th, an Iranian Factory has begun producing rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, increasing tensions with the US over the imposing of sanctions. According to Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Tehran has also increased the capacity to generate electricity at the Natanz facility. The centrifuge factory does not in itself break the terms of the agreement.
Late on Monday, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said it is starting a process to accelerate the preparation of infrastructure for the manufacturing of centrifuge rotors and boosting the domestic capacity for the production of UF4 and UF6 gases. Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the AEOI, as quoted by PressTV, that Iran will inform the International Atomic Energy Agency of the start of the process to increase the production capacity of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a chemical compound that is used as feedstock for centrifuges.
The announcement by the head of Iran’s atomic agency on July 18th came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity, as reported by Al Jazeera. The Leader has ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to make preparations for enrichment of uranium up to a level of 190,000SWU without any delay. SWU is the standard measure of the effort required to separate isotopes of uranium during an enrichment process. 1SWU is equivalent to 1 kilogram of separative work.
Iran has regularly said that the country’s nuclear work is for electricity generation and other peaceful projects. For now, the country is adhering to the accord, and it is waiting to see what the other parties in it can do, albeit Tehran has made apparent that it is prepared to initiate its enrichment activities immediately if need be. However, as reported by the Financial Times that Iran is also adamant on pursuing its ballistic missile program.